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Gibb tells Ofsted to inspect 10% of outstanding schools

Minister accepts current exemption is not giving parents the assurance they need

nick gibb, outstanfing, ofsted, spielman, letter

Minister accepts current exemption is not giving parents the assurance they need

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has told Ofsted to inspect at least one in ten outstanding schools amid concerns that the current exemption is not giving parents the assurance they need.

He was responding to chief inspector Amanda Spielman’s calls for Ofsted to be allowed to routinely inspect schools with the top rating.

Since 2012, schools graded as outstanding have been exempt from routine inspection.

Ofsted can go in if it has concerns over standards or safeguarding.

However, Ofsted warned the Government that the situation was unsustainable after a National Audit Office report found that 1,620 schools had not been inspected for six years or more, including 296 schools that had not been inspected for 10 years.

Now Mr Gibb has written to Ms Spielman calling for Ofsted to inspect 10 per cent of outstanding schools.

He said: “It has also always been the case that schools and colleges judged by Ofsted to be providing outstanding education are not exempt from accountability. We publish sophisticated performance data for all schools and colleges every year, providing transparency about performance for parents.

“In addition, Ofsted has had the ability to determine, through its risk assessment process, which exempt schools and colleges have warranted re-inspection, and the power to inspect exempt providers for the purpose of survey visits.

“I have listened to concerns raised by the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, which I know you share, about the impact of our exemption policy. As time goes on, it is right that we take stock of the policy and ensure that Ofsted is able to provide appropriate assurances about these providers.

"It is for this reason that I am asking that Ofsted reviews its current risk assessment arrangements and increases its inspection of exempt outstanding schools and colleges over the coming year to 10 per cent. This is a recognition that the current arrangements are identifying too few schools and colleges to give parents the assurances they need.”

Mr Gibb said that the 10 per cent of outstanding schools inspected will include schools and colleges where Ofsted’s risk assessment indicates there may be concerns.

He also said the inspectorate could choose to visit a selection of schools and colleges "where best practice is likely to be found to support its survey and research programme."

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "We welcome the Minister’s letter and the recognition that it is a good time to take stock of the government’s exemption policy.

"We will continue our discussions with the Department for Education about the fact that outstanding schools are exempt from routine inspection and that we believe this currently undermines the value for parents of the top inspection grade."  

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