Exclusive: Ofsted trials three-day inspections amid warnings they 'will make teachers ill'

For schools involved in the pilot study, conversion from a short to a full inspection will now take three days rather than two

Adi Bloom

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A new Ofsted trial means that the amount of time inspectors spend in some schools will be increased by 50 per cent.

Tes has also learnt that schools will have to wait up to three weeks – as opposed to the current wait of 48 hours – for a short inspection to be converted into a longer one.  

School leaders fear that these extended inspections will create additional stress and anxiety for teachers.

An assistant headteacher at one of the schools involved in the pilot told Tes: “Schools are now being subjected to three days of inspection, rather than the usual two. This, combined with the waiting time of potentially 15 days, only increases the stress and anxiety that teachers are suffering. It’s going to make people ill.

“I am concerned that three-day inspections will only serve to increase stress at all levels in schools. We shouldn’t have to accept these changes, because they will put teachers’ wellbeing at risk.”

'There are obvious concerns'

At the moment, schools rated good by Ofsted are given a one-day short inspection, to confirm that the school continues to merit its rating.

When inspectors are unable to confirm that a school still deserves its good rating, or think that it could now be outstanding, that inspection is converted to a full inspection. This means a second day of inspection, with a larger team of inspectors, within 48 hours.

Under the new pilot scheme, however, this conversion to a full inspection will take place within 15 working days, rather than within 48 hours.

And the full inspection will involve two days in addition to the one-day short inspection, bringing the total length of the inspection to three days. At the moment, these inspections last a total of two days.

Malcolm Trobe, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "There are obvious concerns – particularly whether waiting for a full inspection actually creates stress for teachers and leadership teams, and whether people feel they have to put in an immense amount of work between the two inspections.

"But there are advantages for schools in having a small gap between inspections. It allows the school to have a think about the issues that are raised, and to collect evidence to address any issues."

Short circuit

At the moment, two-day inspections in bigger schools often involve bringing in a large team of inspectors for the second day. Ofsted says that part of the purpose of the trial is to observe the effect of bringing fewer inspectors into schools, but for a longer period of time.

An Ofsted spokesman said: “We have had some very positive feedback from school leaders about the short-inspection process. However, we have also heard that the logistics of converting a short inspection to a full inspection within 48 hours can be difficult for schools and inspectors to manage.

“Therefore, we are exploring ways of making this process more convenient for both schools and our inspection workforce.”

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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