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Inspection is over in a day

A headteacher who has been through one of Ofsted's ultra-light touch inspections welcomed the change, but said some staff felt they had been judged too quickly.

William Allitt school in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, was visited by one inspector for one day under the new regime, introduced in September for the top 20 per cent of schools in the country.

John Crossley, headteacher at the 980-pupil school, said it had been less stressful than previous inspections and still provided valuable feedback.

"The inspector spent a lot of his day speaking to groups of children, walking around the school to get a feel for it and going into lessons. He went into nine or 10 lessons but just for 10 minutes at a time," he said.

"He went into the lessons with our professional tutor, who is in charge of staff development, to see if the school's view of a teacher tallied with his own.

"Some teachers felt unsure about what he could observe in 10 minutes and that the inspector made some off the cuff judgements. But he knew exactly what he was looking for from the self-evaluation form and previous reports and he focused very much on the essentials of school improvement."

The inspector, who arrived at 8am and left at 6.30pm, met Mr Crossley and the chairman of governors and also also spoke to three heads of department and three newer teachers.

Mr Crossley said staff at the school, which was last inspected in January 2002, were flattered and relieved to have been chosen for one of the ultra-light touch inspections. He also supported plans announced by Christine Gilbert, the new head of Ofsted, to extend the ultra-light touch inspections next April.

"I don't think those plans are unreasonable. The inspection was very much broad brush strokes but it was still interesting and useful to get an expert outsider's view on the school."

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