Ofsted could back down on controversial plans for an inspector to arrive at a school the day before its inspection begins, a senior figure has indicated.
The inspectorate is currently consulting on its plans to introduce a new school inspection framework, which would take effect in September 2019.
The proposals include the lead inspector arriving at the school the afternoon before the inspection formally gets underway, to carry out preparation on-site. This could see schools given just 150-minutes' notice of Ofsted's arrival.
Matthew Purves, Ofsted’s deputy director for schools, told a Westminster Education Forum this morning that this idea was “the one [area] where we have managed to unite the entire nation of England”.
“A lot of the public response – and we have had 5,000 responses – is very negative about that.
“I am unapologetic about having proposed this. I will continue to sell its benefits as I think it is the right thing to do. More face time between inspectors and school leaders is better than less.”
But he added: “Everything we have proposed in the consultation we have proposed because we are willing to listen, and we want people’s responses.
“If there is a tidal wave of negativity we need to sit down and think about that, but we really do think that conversation prior to inspection would be a really good idea.”
He said that Ofsted had included the onsite preparation in its pilots of the new inspection system.
Mr Purves told the forum: “All of the heads before we started it said ‘you must be mad’.
“And after we had done it, actually about half of them have gone ‘actually, that was much better than I expected and I really enjoyed that dialogue’, and half of them said ‘you’re still mad’.”
Earlier this month, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, said in a blog that “more than half of those who have taken part in pilots and given us feedback have expressed their view that on-site preparation is more effective than existing arrangements”.
He said schools had particularly welcomed the chance to “build a professional relationship with the lead inspectors in advance of the inspection starting the following day”.
Today Mr Purves also said that the new inspection framework would see Ofsted inspectors hold "educational conversations" with pupils, and also have more time to talk to classroom teachers.