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Q It seems that inspectors can, at a stroke, declare a teacher is under performing and not reaching standards. Do inspectors suggest ways of improvement to the teacher? Would you and your colleagues be willing to take on the challenges of teaching in today's schools and let teachers see whether you can reach the standards that you recommend?

A It may seem otherwise, but inspectors do not make judgments about individual teachers. They are in lessons so they can use them as one of their sources of evidence for what teaching is typically like in the school. Inspectors will certainly not "declare a teacher is under-performing", though they may find that a lesson is ineffective because the pupils are not making sufficient progress in their learning. They will offer feedback on lessons seen and, unless these are graded as outstanding, that should always identify areas for improvement. The "inspection challenge" question is one that is often raised. It is the job of inspectors to judge the effectiveness of what the school provides. It is not part of their role to provide model lessons. There are other professionals in the education system who do that, such as Advanced Skills Teachers.

Q I know there will be a one-day inspection visit six to eight months after our notice to improve (NTI), but what happens then? Is it purely for monitoring, or can you come out and say we're OK? If things have still not improved at that point, does that mean a re-inspection, or would we be put straight into special measures?

A The NTI visit is purely to monitor progress, it is not a re-inspection to consider whether or not the NTI is still required. The monitoring inspection will take place during a three-month window six to eight months after the date of the inspection that placed the school in NTI in the first place. The school will get a full re-inspection 12 to 16 months after the original one. Monitoring inspections cannot change the category, or place the school in special measures, but if it raises very serious concerns about the standard of education provided, a further return visit may be recommended by the inspector

* Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at Selwyn regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at

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