16th March 2007 at 00:00
Q. What will Ofsted expect to see from me, a secondary teacher, during inspection other than a lesson plan?

I only ask as I have just moved from a private school where I was HMI'd and that was hell - every exercise book, markbook, piece of work, lesson plans for months either side, and long-term planning, as well as all tutee folders and contact with parents, had to be submitted to my head of department and head of year. Please tell me Ofsted is different.

A. I cannot imagine many circumstances in a "section 5" or ordinaryroutine inspection where inspectors would need to see such extensive planning.

If they did, say for example there were significant concerns over the curriculum, this would almost certainly be identified in the pre-inspection briefing made available to the head.

In your private school inspection, it was not necessarily the HMI who demanded all of this documentation, but school leaders as part, I assume, of their preparation.

That is something outside of Ofsted's control, although the fact that schools typically now only get two days between notification and the inspectors' arrival should reduce any tendency to over prepare.

Inspectors do not demand reams of paperwork from class teachers. If offered, or invited to expect, lesson plans, they will look at them when in lessons. They may want to look at the teacher's markbook. Often, in lessons, inspectors will take the opportunity of looking at pupils'

exercise books. None of this ought to impose any extra burden on the staff.

Q. Our school is in special measures but our key stage did well and was considered good. We are expecting our first HMI visit soon. Do you think inspectors will grill us again or just look at the weak areas?

A. I can give no guarantees, but the likely focus of the initial follow-up visit (monitoring inspection) will be the issues identified from the inspection that put the school into special measures.

Having said that, the monitoring inspector may well want to check that aspects of the school that were previously performing well are continuing to do so.

Inspectors won't want to see successful aspects suffering in the drive to improve the weak.

It's also worth pointing out that monitoring inspections might result in new issues being identified for the school, designed to help move the school along on its road to success Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question contact him at regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at

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