Headlines: March 22nd, 2011

Ofsted has announced plans for a new inspection regime to meet the requirements of the Education Bill now progressing through Parliament. Inspection resources will be concentrated on failing schools and outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspection.

The changes follow proposals announced in the 2011 Education Bill and aim to re-focus school inspection on what matters most: the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, backed by excellent leadership and management, and good discipline and behaviour in schools.

Outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections unless concerns about their performance are identified. Ofsted has asked for views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed. In addition it asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection.

The plans also include proposals that inspectors should report on the quality of the education provided by the school, giving priority to the achievement of its pupils and their behaviour and safety, the quality of teaching and the quality of leadership and management of the school. They will also be required to take account of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and the extent to which the education provided enables every pupil to achieve her or his potential, particularly disabled pupils and pupils who have special educational needs.

Inspections will also be more streamlined, giving greater priority to detailed observation of teaching and learning. They will focus strongly on standards of reading and numeracy in primary schools and literacy in secondary schools.

There will also be greater use of measures of relative progress other than contextual value-added indicators. This will include giving more emphasis to reporting on pupils’ behaviour, with particular attention to conduct in lessons and around the school, and each pupil’s safety from bullying and harassment.

The consultation on the plans runs until 20 May and can be accessed online at www.ofsted.gov.uk or requested from the Ofsted enquiry service by calling 0300 123 4234.