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HMI to back up private inspections

The Government has signalled a U-turn in its inspection policy by deciding to restore a role for HM inspectors in the privatised system. Chief Inspector of Schools, Chris Woodhead, this week announced his determination to inspect all primary and special schools within the statutory four-year cycle, by introducing measures to increase the inspections each year. These include sending HMIs in the Office for Standards in Education back into the field to lead inspection teams next term.

Last month, OFSTED's ability to ensure all primary schools were inspected over four years looked unlikely, as OFSTED cut the numbers it planned to inspect over the next three terms by up to half.

The action plan announced yesterday is also intended to stimulate the inspection market. A third of the independent registered primary inspectors, who must put together inspection teams to visit schools, did not apply for any inspections in the autumn term. OFSTED expects to visit some 750 schools this spring out of its target of 1,230.

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