Ofsted timescales for 'failing' schools

I am concerned that your story "'Failing' schools must improve more quickly" (4 November) could cause unnecessary stress to teachers and headteachers who are trying hard to make improvements to their schools.

The information in the article appears to have been based on historic proposals in our consultation from earlier this year and was not taken from the new framework for schools inspection published in September. I want to make clear that we are continuing to consult with schools to ensure that arrangements regarding the inspection of inadequate schools will help bring about the quickest improvements. This is essential in ensuring that those schools can provide a better education to their pupils.

The actual position is that we are currently piloting a number of early visits by HMIs to schools that have been judged to require special measures. Under this arrangement, HMIs visit the school earlier than in the past to help ensure the school's progress out of special measures is accelerated.

This visit would be in advance of the first formal monitoring visit and is designed to bring together all those with a responsibility for helping the school improve - staff, senior leaders and representatives from the local authority to focus on the action plan - and therefore help ensure outcomes for pupils improve more quickly.

There is no set timescale of a second visit within six months. It is important to stress that this does not extend to schools in notice to improve. And therefore to suggest schools with a notice to improve could be moved to special measures within six months as a result of these trials is simply wrong.

Susan Gregory, National director, Ofsted.

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