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Changes to the school inspection window

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Welcome back from the Easter holidays – I hope that you had a restful break, and that you’re starting the new term refreshed!

Over the holiday period, we have been preparing for next term’s inspections and finalising a small number of updates to our section 8 and section 5 inspection handbooks, which were published today.

These updates bring some changes to the inspection time frame, so I wanted to explain what this means in a bit more detail. Effective immediately, we are:

  • extending the usual timeframe within which good schools receive a short inspection from approximately 3 to 4 years. The maximum period in which we would return remains the statutory 5 years from the end of the academic year of the previous inspection, as at present for schools
  • aligning the re-inspection window for requires improvement, serious weakness and special measures schools to up to 30 months (from 30, 18, and 24 months, respectively)

We are making these changes to give our regional directors greater discretion about the date of re-inspection. This will allow them to reflect the circumstances and progress of the schools in question.

Regular monitoring of requires improvement and inadequate schools will continue as it is now and all of our usual risk assessment processes remain in place. Regional directors have a clear understanding of how schools in their areas are performing. If a school needs to be inspected more urgently
or given more time to consolidate improvement, then we will still have the flexibility to do so at the discretion of the regional director.

Children writing in notebooks

I also want to be clear that we are not changing our expectation about the time it should take schools to come out of special measures or serious weaknesses. We will judge those schools that are in a category of concern but that are taking effective action to improve to be ready for removal from their category of concern within the established 18- to 24-month period.

There’s no denying that Ofsted, in common with other public sector organisations, must do better with less. We are committed to working in a way that allows us to deliver effective, high-quality inspection while meeting the challenge of reduced resources.

Above all, I believe that these are sensible, pragmatic changes which will allow for a more flexible approach to how we schedule school inspection.


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