Exclusive: Ofsted plan to spend longer in schools

Ofsted looks to ensure that inspectors spend more time in schools amid criticism that its reports are unreliable

John Roberts

Ofsted is looking at its inspectors spending more time in schools

Ofsted is planning to ensure that inspectors spend more time in schools as part of its new inspection framework, Tes understands.

The news comes after criticism and questions about how much inspectors are able to discover about a school under the current regime, in which they are only present for one or two days.

This week Tes revealed how a heavyweight commission on school accountability has concluded that Ofsted inspection reports are unreliable and provide false assurance to parents – because inspectors do not have the time they need.

Now Tes has learned that Ofsted is planning changes that could address this concern.

It is understood that as part of its work on a new inspection framework, which is due to be introduced next year, Ofsted is “looking at finding ways of making sure inspectors can spend more time with providers [schools]”.

Ofsted has also faced recent criticism from the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which warned that cuts in funding and inspections risked undermining the inspectorate’s credibility.

Ofsted under fire

The PAC said there had been more focus on the cost of school inspections than on getting assurance about schools' effectiveness.

It warned that the level of assurance that Ofsted could give about school effectiveness had been reduced because of budget cuts.

Currently, Ofsted will inspect "good" schools for a day, unless the inspectorate believes that standards have declined, in which case the school can receive a two-day inspection. "Outstanding" schools are exempt from routine inspection.

A National Audit Office report into Ofsted earlier this year said that the exemption had led to more than 1,600 schools going for six or more years without inspection, with 296 having not been inspection for 10 years or more.

A new Ofsted framework with longer inspections could counter these problems. However, concerns over the workload involved in introducing a new framework have prompted heads’ union the NAHT to call for the Ofsted changes to be “paused”.

There has also been tension between Ofsted and the Department for Education over the plans for the new inspection framework. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has voiced concern that the changes could result in an increase in workload.



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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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