Ofsted decides against roll out of no notice inspections

Sir Michael Wilshaw
Sir Michael Wilshaw
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Plans for all schools to face snap inspections have been ditched, it has been announced.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said today he had decided not to consult on the proposal but revealed that the watchdog would be conducting more no-notice visits where there are particular concerns about individual schools.

Schools usually get half a day’s notice of an inspection

In the wake of reports into the alleged “Trojan horse” takeover plot by Muslims govermors and teachers at a number of Birmingham schools, Sir Michael said that he would look again at routine unannounced inspections, a policy that was first mooted around two years ago but later dropped amid strong opposition from school leaders.

While this proposal was under consideration, Sir Michael asked Ofsted’s regional directors to make use of the watchdog’s existing powers to conduct no-notice inspections where there are concerns about rapidly declining standards, keeping pupils safe - including a decline in students’ behaviour - leadership and governance and the breadth and balance of the curriculum.

Today’s announcement is likely to be seen by some as backtracking on no-notice inspections, although Sir Michael has insisted he is not “caving in” over the policy.

The Ofsted boss said: “I’ve decided after much thought not to consult on unannounced inspections.

“We’ve conducted over 40 unannounced inspections over the last few weeks where we have concerns about declines in standards, concerns about governance, a broad and balanced curriculum and safeguarding issues.

“We are already going to more schools unannounced where we do have concerns and I intended to increase the number of no-notice inspections over the year, where our regional intelligence tells us that there are particular concerns.”

He said that one of the reasons Ofsted conducted no-notice visits in 40 schools was to test whether the watchdog had enough powers to carry out this type of inspection where necessary.

At the moment, routine unannounced inspections for all state schools in England are “not the right thing to do”, Sir Michael said

“I’m not caving in,” he insisted. “I’m going to increase the number of unannounced inspections

“Is it something we might want to consider in the future? We’ll have a look at it.

“At the moment we’re going to increase the number and have the powers to do so.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “It is good news that Ofsted has decided against a move to routine no-notice inspections at this time.”

He added: “We look forward to talking further with Ofsted about the circumstances in which no-notice inspections should take place.”