Headteachers of outstanding schools “enjoy inspectors coming” and would prefer not to be exempt from routine Ofsted visits, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed.
Although schools rated good will be subject to more frequent, shorter inspections under plans unveiled by the watchdog last week, those with the top grade will remain exempt from routine visits.
As a result of the Education Act 2011, outstanding schools can only be inspected if Ofsted has specific cause for concern, triggered either by dramatic changes in their exam results or by complaints.
At the launch of the consultation on Ofsted’s proposed new inspection framework last Thursday, Sir Michael said he would prefer “all schools to be inspected routinely” and had discussed the matter with former education secretary Michael Gove.
“I suspect, if you talked to outstanding heads, they would want that exemption waived, because they enjoy inspectors coming,” he added.
He also said the performance of some outstanding schools that had been re-inspected had fallen “dramatically”.
In 2011, Sir Michael’s predecessor, Christine Gilbert, admitted to a Commons Education Select Committee that she had “some anxiety” about outstanding schools being exempt from regular visits.
But Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said his members were happy for the exemption to remain in place.
“Inspection can be a useful, informative process, but the decision not to routinely inspect outstanding schools was welcomed [when it was announced] by lots of schools. We have no desire for that to change,” Mr Lightman added.
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