https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2015/12/16/short-inspections-10-things-you-need-to-know/

Short inspections: 10 things you need to know

 

Last month’s blog mentioned our survey on how well school teachers were informed about the September inspection arrangements. There’s still a fair bit of speculation on the short (section 8) inspections for good schools/providers.

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At events I attend, and also on Twitter, a few themes keep cropping up, so, I’ve put together 10 points below outlining what these new inspections are about.

1.    They will be roughly every three years so we can identify decline or improvement earlier. (Practically, because of scheduling constraints, good schools and further education and skills (FES) providers are likely to be inspected in the period between 33 and 47 months after their previous short inspection.)

2.    We give schools half a day’s notice and FES providers two days’ notice (though Ofsted has the power to inspect without notice where we have concerns).

3.    Short inspections of schools are for one day and are led by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI); a team inspector will accompany the lead HMI in secondary schools and large primaries. In FES, inspections may take two days and need a larger team depending on the size and type of provider being inspected.

4.    Inspectors start with the presumption that the school/provider is still good. This allows honest, challenging, professional dialogue between inspectors and senior leaders, rather than a ‘cliff-edge’ experience.

Inspectors check:

  • whether leaders have a sound grasp of relative strengths and weaknesses in their school/provider
  • if there’s a credible plan to address the areas for concern and maintain the strengths
  • if the safeguarding is effective and the culture is sufficiently aspirational

5.    During the short inspection, inspectors look to validate the leaders’ assessment and test it against observation, discussion with staff and students, and data. They share emerging findings with senior leaders.

6.    At the end of the inspection, if the school/provider remains good, inspectors give clear, helpful feedback to leaders. If there are other things that can be done to offer a better experience for children and learners, they say so.

Rather than a new set of judgements, the principal judgements that inspectors make are whether the school/provider remains good, and whether safeguarding is effective. Although HMI might conclude that particular areas are weaker than they were before, they will give credit if this has been identified and if effective leadership is moving the institution forward.

For example, let’s say results in a school/provider have suffered a dip because of problems in the maths department while everything else looks stable. If inspectors assess that the leadership is clear about the reasons behind this and there is a credible plan for addressing the situation, in that instance, the ‘good’ judgement would be confirmed, and it’ll have a clear mandate to improve the areas identified over the next few years.

7.    After the inspection, HMI report their findings in a letter to the head/principal/CEO confirming that the school/provider remains good, explaining what inspectors saw, and highlighting areas for improvement. The school/provider returns to the short inspection cycle unless concerns are raised in the meantime.

8.    In some cases, if an inspector believes that standards may have declined or improved from good, they will tell senior leaders and convert the inspection into a full inspection to gather sufficient evidence. They will call in a full inspection team to support them, usually within 24-48 hours in a school and within 15 days in an FES provider.

A decision to convert does not mean the outcome of the full inspection is pre-determined – the overall effectiveness judgement may go up or down or may confirm that the provider remains good.

9.    After a full inspection, inspectors will give clear, professional feedback to leaders on why they believe the school/provider has declined, remains good, or improved to outstanding. The findings are published as a standard inspection report.

10. If the school/provider is judged:

  • Requires Improvement or Inadequate – Ofsted’s monitoring processes kick in to provide support and challenge.
  • Good – it returns to the short inspection cycle (approximately every three years).
  • Outstanding – it is exempt from routine inspection and will only undergo full inspection if performance drops.

I hope this helps to an extent to demystify the short inspection process a little. There are five videos on our website where you can listen to headteachers, a principal and a childminder who took part in short inspection pilots last summer. Here, head teacher Simon Eardley talks about his experience of short inspections:

We have already had a lot of useful feedback about how these inspections are working, but I would be grateful for ongoing feedback from those of you who have a short inspection; please use the post-inspection questionnaire and contact me or your Regional Director to tell us how you found it.

Meanwhile, I hope you all manage to get some rest and enjoyment over the festive break.

26 comments

  1. Comment by S. Veasey-Smith posted on

    My child's special school was previously at good. Notice was given to say inspectors were in one day. The next day a message was sent out to say they were in again. So 2 consecutive days and have been judged from good previously to outstanding. I thought they would have to have a longer inspection for that to happen? Also parent view only appeared to have got views from approximately 20% of parents yet in the report it frequently refers to most parents. How can it be most if most is only of 20%?
    Do inspectors have to have qualifications /SEN teaching experience in order to inspect a special needs school?

    Reply
    • Replies to S. Veasey-Smith>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Ofsted conduct short inspections of schools that were judged good at their most recent section 5 inspection. These inspections last for one day and take place approximately every three years. When the outcome of a short inspection is that the school remains good and there is sufficient evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school may be judged outstanding, the short inspection will be converted to a section 5 inspection, usually within 48 hours. More inspectors may join the HMI lead inspector on site. This may include HMI and/or Ofsted Inspectors as team inspectors and they will gather and evaluate evidence in order to make a full set of graded judgements. Similarly, where it appears that the school might no longer be good, inspectors will return for a second day.

      Although Parent View is one of the main methods for gathering the views of parents and carers, inspectors will also use other approaches to gather evidence of parents’ views about the school. This includes talking to some parents formally or informally. Parents can also ask to speak directly with an inspector or pass on messages to the inspection team through the inspection administrators. The report should make clear when referring to parents’ views that this is based on the responses received rather than reflecting the views of all parents. The factual section of the report will normally indicate the level of response.

      The staffing of these inspections is based on inspectors’ knowledge and experience. For pupil referral units and special schools (including maintained residential special schools and non-maintained special schools with residential provision), the inspection will be led by an HMI accompanied by one or more team inspectors. I can confirm that the team selected for a special school inspection consists of inspectors with past experience in this background and SEN training.

      Reply
  2. Comment by Deb posted on

    Can anyone answer this question for me - I was told that if you are a recently appointed headteacher of a good school, Ofsted will leave you for a year before inspecting?

    Reply
    • Replies to Deb>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Good schools do not qualify for improvement periods for new headteachers. This is only for schools judged to ‘require improvement’, where a new headteacher joins the school after the section 5 judgement. In this case, the headteacher can write to the Ofsted regional director to ask for the timing of the next inspection to take place later than the normal 24 months from publication of the previous inspection report. If the regional director decides to delay, the school will be re-inspected no later than 30 months after the publication of the previous report.

      Reply
  3. Comment by Margaret posted on

    Can I ask how long do I wait for a draft report (letter) after a one day inspection? Thanks

    Reply
  4. Comment by Bex posted on

    Hello. I have been told by a colleague that if there have been a rapid succession of headteachers within a few years (in our case 3 headteachers in 4 years at a good rated school) this will trigger an early Ofsted inspection. Is this true?

    Reply
    • Replies to Bex>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, A new headteacher does not necessarily trigger an inspection, nor delay it. A succession of short stay appointments could, however, be an indicator of other concerns about a school. Were that to be the case, this might inform the timing on an inspection of a school.

      Reply
  5. Comment by Sandy posted on

    My school was due an inspection any time from December 2011, yet a new head joined the school and so we thought it would be delayed a year to allow her to settle in. It's now 2017 and still no ofsted. We were judged as outstanding back in 2008 but this was 9 years ago! Is this unusual to be left alone for so long?!

    Reply
    • Replies to Sandy>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Ofsted is required to inspect all schools to which section 5 of the Education Act applies ‘within five school years’ of the last inspection. However, some schools are exempt from this requirement if they were judged to be outstanding in their overall effectiveness at their most recent section 5 inspection. Exempt schools are subject to risk assessment. If the risk assessment process raises concerns about the performance of an exempt school, it may be inspected at any time after the completion of the risk assessment under section 8. For further information please see paragraphs 13 – 19 of the School inspection handbook.

      Reply
  6. Comment by Janine Cobbe posted on

    My school was previously good but told on Monday we would be having a 2 day inspection before they even came in. Is this common?

    Reply
    • Replies to Janine Cobbe>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Schools judged to be good at their previous section 5 inspection will normally receive a one-day short inspection, carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005, approximately every three years, as long as the quality of education remains good at each short inspection. However, some good schools will automatically receive a full section 5 inspection instead of a section 8 short inspection, and this will occur when Ofsted’s risk assessment process indicates that the quality of provision may have deteriorated significantly. Schools may also receive a full section 5 inspection where there has been a significant change in the school, for example, through the merger with another school that closes or by the addition of a new phase or key stage.

      Reply
      • Replies to Ofsted external relations>

        Comment by Pollyperks posted on

        Can this be triggered by a parental complaint

        Reply
  7. Comment by RDW posted on

    my child currently attends a school in Strood Medway that over two years ago had an inspection that required improvement. Can someone tell me why a change of name seems to have erradicated the return visit from Ofsted within 24 months? According to Ofsted her school has closed and the "new one" opened. Effectively the school has changed its name and academy trust, but why have not had an inspection?

    Reply
  8. Comment by Kirsty Gosling posted on

    My child attends a secondary school that was graded inadequate 2yrs ago. It has had 4 section 8 inspections since then which have largely read positive in its improvements. But it remains in special measures. Will it be likely to have a section 5 inspection and change it’s rating if it continues to improve?

    Reply
    • Replies to Kirsty Gosling>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Without further information about the school, it's difficult to be specific about the future of inspection of this school.

      But, in general terms, maintained schools judged inadequate are subject to an academy order and will become a new sponsored academy. Since April 2016, maintained schools or PRUs that have been issued with an academy order will not normally receive monitoring inspections. For academies that are judged inadequate, they may have their funding agreement terminated and rebrokered to another trust. Whether newly-academised or rebrokered, these schools will become new sponsored academies and will subsequently be inspected as new schools within three years of operation, and normally in the third year.

      Academies judged to have serious weaknesses, which are not rebrokered, will be subject to monitoring by Ofsted. They will normally be re-inspected within 18 months of the inspection in which they were judged to have serious weaknesses. Academies judged to require special measures, which are not rebrokered, will be subject to monitoring by Ofsted. The timing of the next section 5 inspection will be determined by the academy’s rate of improvement. However, it will normally take place no later than 24 months after the inspection that judged it to require special measures.

      Reply
  9. Comment by Dave posted on

    Are PRU's that are outstanding exempt or still on the same 3 year cycle? - from above it says - "Outstanding – it is exempt from routine inspection and will only undergo full inspection if performance drops."

    Reply
    • Replies to Dave>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, PRUs that were judged outstanding for overall effectiveness at their most recent section 5 inspection are not prescribed as exempt from inspection. Such schools are subject to short inspections, which take place every three years, as long as the school remains outstanding or good.

      Reply
  10. Comment by Jo posted on

    If a school is graded as requires improvement, will they be inspected again sooner than 2 years? thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to Jo>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi Jo, the current policy from the section 8 handbook is:

      ‘Schools judged as requires improvement will be re-inspected under section 5 usually no later than the end of the term in which the 24th month after the publication of the section 5 report falls.

      In schools judged as requires improvement where a new headteacher joins the school after the section 5 judgement, the school will normally be re-inspected no later than 30 months after the publication of the previous report.’

      Reply
  11. Comment by Ann posted on

    Surely even a school previously rated 'outstanding' in 2008 should have had another inspection by now, 10 years !

    Reply
    • Replies to Ann>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, Ofsted is required to inspect all schools to which section 5 of the Education Act applies ‘within five school years’ of the last inspection. However, some schools are exempt from this requirement if they were judged to be outstanding in their overall effectiveness at their most recent section 5 inspection. Exempt schools are subject to risk assessment. If the risk assessment process raises concerns about the performance of an exempt school, it may be inspected at any time after the completion of the risk assessment under section 8. For further information please see paragraphs 13 – 20 of the School inspection handbook.

      Reply
  12. Comment by Rose posted on

    Hi
    Ofsted have their inconsistencies and I have experienced that the outcomes depend on the individual inspectors interpretation. Some don’t even understand the standards clearly. Therefore they do not necessarily give an accurate picture of the school.

    Reply
    • Replies to Rose>

      Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

      Hi, In terms of schools, all inspectors are experienced school leaders who have undergone rigorous recruitment and training to make decisions during an inspection. They work in accordance to the School inspection handbook, which sets out what inspectors must do and what schools can expect.

      Reply

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