Only the best: no excuses

8th June 2012 at 01:00

As I've said many times, teaching is a noble profession. That's not an idle platitude. It's a true reflection of our work in giving children their one opportunity to benefit from a good education. Youngsters who fail in our education system rarely get a second chance.

Being chief inspector is all about helping schools to raise standards. Ofsted's new inspection framework will support the many good and aspirational leaders in our schools.

The changes we are making to inspection this September will make education that is "good" or better, the only acceptable standard. Too many pupils go through their entire school careers in "satisfactory" schools without experiencing "good" provision. Quite simply, satisfactory is not good enough.

My job is to make sure that more young adults emerge from school with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed; an ambition shared by the whole profession.

As with every new inspection framework, expectation levels are raised. We are taking an important step towards ensuring that all schools achieve a "good" rating and that every effort is made to ensure that schools do not remain in the previous "satisfactory" category year after year. This is a hard task, but the ambition that all schools should be good is at the heart of these reforms.

The consultation on these changes received more than 5,000 responses, including many from headteachers and teachers.

From next term, all "outstanding" schools will need to have outstanding teaching. Not every lesson during inspection will need to be outstanding, but it will mean that, over time, teaching will enable almost all pupils to make rapid and sustained progress.

The "satisfactory" category will cease to exist. This change was supported by most of those who responded to our consultation. We will inspect more frequently those schools that "require improvement" and help them to improve. Let me emphasise that schools that "require improvement" are not in a category of concern. Nevertheless, this new designation is a signal that these schools must improve to a "good" standard within a prescribed period of time.

On no-notice inspection, we listened carefully to our consultation and decided that we will contact the school in the afternoon of the working day before the inspection. This will allow headteachers to be present at the start of the inspection and give schools sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements. It is important that inspectors see schools as they really are and that we alleviate the tension that now exists before an inspection. We are not trying to catch out teachers.

It is vital that we all recognise that standards need to be raised for all children, but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I'm also keenly aware that standards will be raised only if our new inspection framework makes more demands on our education system and, crucially, supports good leaders and teachers.

To develop a world-class education system, we have to create a no-excuses culture. We must ensure that all our children, irrespective of background, do not miss their only opportunity to receive a good education. I know I have your support in this mission.

Sir Michael Wilshaw is Her Majesty's Chief Inspector.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today