https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2016/02/08/inspection-timescales/

Inspection timescales

There’s been some speculation about the timing of inspections, particularly of the new short inspections, and I understand that some schools may be anxious about where they are.

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When we introduced short inspections of good schools in September 2015, we moved from a cycle in which these schools were fully inspected on average every three years and seven months, to one where we aim to visit them approximately every three years. This will help us to identify decline earlier or give good schools the opportunity to demonstrate improvement sooner.

Transitional year 

However, with this academic year being a transitional one, it means that we will not be in the ‘three-year cycle’ for all good schools straight away – we will be moving towards it. Therefore, the first short inspection for a good school is likely to fall more than three years after its last inspection. However, statute dictates that this cannot go beyond the end of the fifth academic year after the previous inspection.

Please remember though that it’s best not to try to predict the date of your inspection based on when the last one took place and sometimes, Ofsted will inspect very soon after your last inspection if we have concerns.

Schools requiring improvement

Schools judged as Requires Improvement will be re-inspected under section 5 of the Act (‘full inspection’) and this could be up to 30 months after the publication of the previous report.

Recently appointed headteachers of schools judged to require improvement and those who may have questions/concerns about the scheduling of their next inspection may write to the relevant Ofsted Regional Director to set out the context of their school’s present position. Any decision on the timing of the inspection will be for the Regional Director.

Focus on the children

That said, we do not expect schools to start planning and preparing for inspection. Our inspectors want to see leaders and teachers doing what they do well on a daily basis. Some of my colleagues have been reiterating this in a series of #OfstedMyths videos – rather than preparing for the process of an Ofsted inspection, just focus on what’s best for the pupils.

12 comments

  1. M Tomlinson

    You may suggest that schools do not behave differently, but school leaderships team punish teachers who do not follow the strange and unnecessary suggestions put forward. In the attempt to get consistent marking across the school, we have to mark in the same manner, so a science teacher marks a piece of work in the same way as an English teacher, although they are looking for different thing. Another issue is the insistence on an even better if statement, which excellent and hardworking students find dispiriting if an amazing piece of work has an extra chore added, even one that I would consider a step too far, because Ofsted demand that the marking must be consistent. Do your inspectors realise that a comment like that will drive the SLT in a school into a frenzy.

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    • Ofsted comms team

      M Tomlinson: Ofsted does not expect a certain type and a certain amount of marking. It is for schools to make a decision about their marking based on what works best for their pupils and to put this into their policy. Inspectors will look to see that teachers are marking as set out in the policy, and they'll be looking to see that it's effective.

      Thanks for letting us know - we will continue to clarify areas like this where there are misconceptions.

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      • James Rouse

        I think there can be situations where senior leadership teams use Ofsted as a lever to drive change when, in fact, they should have the confidence to make decisions and communicate these based on what is best for the child. In my school, we have a very short (2-sided) policy which states the principles of effective feedback and marking, but not the actual practice. This is translated into "Policy to Practice" documents by subject teams who decide for themselves what effective feedback looks like in their subject. The head of department and the senior leadership team's role is simply to monitor whether subject teams are doing what THEY say they want to do. It seems counter-intuitive that drama would give feedback in the same way as English, PE or History. The impact has been that feedback has become much more effective and manageable.

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  2. Susan Hetheridge

    I was wondering if there is a more parent friendly version of the Ofsted report database ( https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/ )? I find it very difficult to know exactly what criteria to use to find a particular establishment.

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    • Ofsted comms team

      Susan: We are working on developing our reports website and will let you know through this blog.

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  3. Jacqui Edgar

    As Sandcross Primary schools's last report was done over 4 years ago, can you tell me please if another is mminent? Thank you (We are looking for a school for our child/grandchild very shortly...

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    • andrzejkuras

      The regulations set the interval for section 5 inspections ‘within five school years from the end of the school year in which the last inspection took place.’ I cannot tell you when the inspection will be, I'm afraid.

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  4. Yasmeen Lulat

    Is there an absolute maximum time within which a primary will be re inspected? Leanne

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    • andrzejkuras

      The regulations set the interval for section 5 inspections ‘within five school years from the end of the school year in which the last inspection took place.’

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  5. David Hill

    Would a school receiving very low sats results warrant an ofsted inspection to investigate why they are under achieving

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    • michelenevard

      Hi Dave, thanks for your query. I'll ask someone in the policy team and see if I can get you an answer.

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    • michelenevard

      Hi Dave,

      We wouldn't necessarily go in if results dipped in a single year. This can happen, e.g. in schools with small cohorts.

      We look at trends in performance over time. If however results dropped significantly and we became aware of other issues or concerns, that might influence the timing of the next inspection.

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