Headlines: June 12th, 2009

A new system of inspection for schools is being launched today. Ofsted is making changes to the focus of its inspections in an effort to ensure they have the greatest impact possible on school improvement. The new process will also give more significance to the views of pupils and parents.

The new framework is being launched by Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Education, Children’s Services and Skills at the first of a series of conference for schools and local authorities. It will mean that from September schools that are inadequate or satisfactory will face more frequent inspections while for those that are judged to be good or outstanding there will be a longer gap between Ofsted visits.

There will also be more ‘light touch’, one-day inspections and inspectors will be able to support weaker schools, by visiting those that are not improving between their full inspections. Ofsted will use annual assessments to look at how schools are performing and will also gather information from parents to help decide which schools should be inspected each year. Schools will get less than two days notice of inspection to try to strike a balance between pressure on schools and ensuring inspectors see a true picture. Where there are particular concerns, for example connected to welfare, Ofsted may inspect a school without giving notice. No-notice inspection visits will also be made to schools in Special Measures and those with a Notice to Improve as well as to about 40 percent of satisfactory schools.

Christine Gilbert will tell the conference: “This new framework represents an important shift in the way we inspect schools. We will double the amount of time we spend in classrooms observing teaching. We will engage staff in discussion about ways of improving.”