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20th June 2008 at 01:00
Q: Should teachers cancel their tests and assessments where these coincide with a one-day, light-touch inspection? My instinct is to go ahead as planned, but then I heard that Ofsted cannot give more than satisfactory for a lesson that is a test
Q: Should teachers cancel their tests and assessments where these coincide with a one-day, light-touch inspection? My instinct is to go ahead as planned, but then I heard that Ofsted cannot give more than satisfactory for a lesson that is a test.

A: My advice is always to stick to existing plans and don't alter things for the benefit of the inspectors.

On a reduced tariff inspection such as yours, it is likely that the inspector will visit classes, look at work and talk to pupils to get an idea of what teaching and learning are typically like - they won't be relying on lesson observations for their judgement on teaching.

There are, by the way, no Ofsted rules to say that inspectors cannot give more than satisfactory for a lesson that is a test. This is one of many Ofsted myths.

Q: I've heard that inspectors put a lot of emphasis on checking that schools have CRB checks in place for all staff and parent helpers. Is that right? Would a school be failed if it didn't?

A: Inspectors are required to check the school's central record, which records that all mandatory checks have been carried out. If a school cannot demonstrate they have been completed or are being carried out, then it is failing to meet government requirements.

Schools that have not met safeguarding requirements are not automatically placed in a category of concern but it is possible that the school would be placed in one of these categories if this indicated lapses in leadership and management.

In addition to the central record showing CRB checks, inspectors also look at other aspects relating to safeguarding, such as pupil health and safety; bullying; racist abuse; meeting the needs of pupils with medical conditions; providing first aid; drug and substance misuse and school security.

Failure to keep a log of racist incidents might be seen as a failure to protect the victims of such incidents.

While it is not feasible for inspectors to check that schools follow all correct health and safety requirements, they do routinely check the racist incident log and the school's risk assessments. If there are grounds for concern, inspectors may carry out further investigation.

In addition, some of the records relating to health and safety, such as the accident book, may contribute helpful evidence when looking at pupils' safety, behaviour and so forth.

Selwyn has been an inspector for 15 years, working in primary and secondary schools. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at askaninspector@tes.co.uk.

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