9th March 2007 at 00:00
Q. What is the difference between Ofsted and HMI inspections?

My school is in special measures and HMI visits are being talked about as opposed to Ofsted.

A. In this context, there is no difference. HMI are Her Majesty's Inspectors. They carry out various functions within Ofsted, including leading and being team members on inspections.

Schools also encounter additional inspectors. These may be serving headteachers who are on secondment, but they are more usually employed by the regional inspection service providers rather than Ofsted.

Ofsted expected that four out of five secondary inspections and one in five primary inspections would be led by HMI, with the remainder led by an additional inspector.

For schools in special measures, there will be regular (mostly termly) inspection visits to monitor the school's progress and improvement. In the past, these were always led by HMI. Now, however, some are led by additional inspectors with a school improvement specialism. In either case, wherever possible, the same inspector will usually lead the monitoring inspection visits so that they get to know the school well and build a clear picture of its progress over time.

Q. There are a few new teachers in our school and we have been told that we will probably have a lunchtime interview with inspectors. What sort of questions should we prepare for? Will we be observed?

A. New teachers are just as likely to be observed as others. If inspectors want to talk to you about being a newly qualified teacher at the school they will probably want to find out what support you have had from school leaders. They may want to check whether your perceptions match the picture they have been given by senior managers. Inspectors might also, for example, want to ask teachers about school procedures such as dealing with child protection issues. This will give inspectors confirmation of the extent to which such policies are disseminated among newly appointed staff 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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