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Ofsted: Most schools welcome early arrival of inspectors

Watchdog says it has had positive feedback on its plan for an inspector to arrive at school the day before inspection

Sean Harford says many schools welcome Ofsted's on-site preparation plan

Watchdog says it has had positive feedback on its plan for an inspector to arrive at school the day before inspection

Ofsted has said the majority of schools involved in a pilot of its new framework have welcomed its controversial plan for an inspector arrive the afternoon before inspection to begin on site preparation.

Under its plans the inspectorate is proposing that a lead inspector arrives at a school with as little as 150 minutes' notice to prepare for inspection the following day.

Some school leaders have voiced concerns that this preparation time will feel like the beginning of the inspection for heads.

Quick read: Schools could get just 150 minutes notice

Quick read: Short notice plan could be dropped

Background: Ofsted's plan for a new inspection framework

However Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, has said the on-site preparation has been well received during pilot inspections of the new framework.

In a new blog post he said: “We’re not even halfway through, but 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. 

“What seems to have been particularly well received by these schools was the chance to build a professional relationship with the lead inspectors in advance of the inspection starting the following day.”

He did acknowledge that some heads felt it made the inspection feel like it was two-and-a-half days long.

Ofsted is launching a new inspection framework from September with an increased focus on curriculum.

Mr Harford said Ofsted has carried out 60 pilot inspections under its new framework and was planning to carry out 200 in total.

He said that some heads had raised concern about whether Ofsted could inspect curriculum in two days.

His post also says that Ofsted acknowledges that its plans to extend section 8 inspections of good schools to two days may be "overkill" for small primary schools.

Tes revealed last year that Ofsted was looking to introduce on-site preparation as part of its new inspection framework. Under the plans the inspector would call before 10am and then arrive after 12.30pm on the same day.

Currently, inspectors carry out pre-inspection preparation remotely the day before they turn up at a school.

Mr Harford added: “We’ve been told for some time that the initial contact between an inspector and a school leader can seem too process-driven – two people going through admin and columns of figures – instead of a proper conversation about what’s going on at a school.”

Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said the move had been suggested to make inspection less data driven and give schools chance to have a dialogue with Ofsted before the inspection starts.

The blog post also reveals that Ofsted has had mixed but broadly positive feedback on its plans for inspectors not to look at school's internal data.

Mr Harford added that schools could still use internal data when discussing matters with inspectors but that Ofsted would not spend time trying to dive into a school's "particular style of collecting and recording data". 

Ofsted is consulting on its plans for a new framework until 5 April. Mr Harford’s blog revealed that it has already had 4,500 responses so far.

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