The atmosphere of fear and loathing at the Office for Standards in Education has, fortunately, disappeared with Chris Woodhead. However, having been through an inspection recently, I can confirm there is a serious flaw in the process.
With so much notice the management has time to set up artificial systems - organising thousands of meetings to discuss weak points, forcing staff to use standardised plans and checking up on missing students only because inspectors are coming - that they can easily give the misleading appearance of running a professional institution. The fact that, despite all the coaching and coercion some teachers and managers still get a grade 5 shows how really bad they are at their job! The gross waste of time that results from "preparing for inspection" is a particular disgrace.
The aim of inspections should be straightforward: to help the establishment improve its standards. So why not have a spot-check by inspectors - to see work being carried out on a normal day, warts and all - and then everyone sit down and discuss how things can be improved.
Another check one or two years later would then measure progress without causing any disruption to the education of students or stress to the staff.