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Ofsted plans extra 'mini-inspections'

Satisfactory schools will face extra mini-inspections under proposals published by Ofsted this week.

Inspectors will visit schools which pass their inspections but which have under-achieving subject departments or year groups to check on their progress.

Ultra-light-touch, one-day inspections for the top 20 per cent of schools and increased monitoring of those given notice to improve are the other changes.

The proposals are aimed at increasing the pressure on underperforming schools after ministers promised to close schools in special measures which fail to show significant improvement within a year. They build on the short-notice, light-touch inspections based on school self-evaluation introduced in September. Satisfactory schools are currently visited once every three years.

Ofsted said: "We have looked closely at schools which have been judged satisfactory and think that many of the schools where there are pockets of underachievement could be doing better.

"We don't think satisfactory is good enough for the pupils involved. In addition, we are concerned that some of these schools deteriorate between inspections and are in danger of falling into a category of concern when they are reinspected." A spokeswoman said pockets of underachievement could include weak performance by specific year groups, boys or girls or different racial groups.

Trials of the new monitoring visits will begin next term. Inspectors' judgements will be published in a letter sent to the school and local authority and published on Ofsted's website.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "In principle we support more proportionate inspection but the proposal to inspect more often some of the schools graded satisfactory is completely unacceptable. Schools need a coherent support programme, not more inspection."

Under the new proposals, the progress of schools given a notice to improve will be monitored by inspectors after six months through schools visits or telephone conversations with the headteacher and local authority.

These schools, which have serious weaknesses or are judged to be coasting, will still face a full reinspection after one year. There will be no changes for schools in special measures, which are already subject to monitoring.

Proportionate inspection:A consultation document is available from www.ofsted.gov.uk

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