30th November 2007 at 00:00
Q: If reasons given for going into special measures are standards and leadership, if the school can prove that they have acted on all areas of the post-Ofsted action plans, how long would it generally take for evidence to amass that the school has turned itself around? Would one set of Sats be enough or is there a more general amount of time that one would expect to be in special measures?

A: I don't think it's helpful to speculate about average times in special measures because every school is different. The reasons for judging a school as requiring special measures will be different, as will the school's response and the effectiveness of action taken. Schools put into special measures can expect termly visits from the inspector monitoring their progress. Any one of those visits could take them out of special measures and a school would normally be expected to come out in or after five monitoring visits over two years.

Some schools in special measures go through rapid improvement and are out within a year; some go all the way from inadequate to good in that timescale.

Q: I'm a school cook and I want to know if the school kitchen gets inspected along with the school?

A: Since September 2005, Ofsted inspections have been based around the Every Child Matters agenda, and one of the five ECM outcomes that inspectors will be looking at is "being healthy" - which means the extent to which pupils understand and follow the need for healthy lifestyles. Usually this involves a focus on exercise and diet. It would not usually involve inspecting the kitchens - that is a responsibility undertaken by the local authority's environmental health officers - but it may well mean that inspectors look at the sort of food that the school serves up for its children.

Inspectors may well have lunch with the pupils. They will almost certainly ask them about healthy food. They are mostly, though, interested in assessing how much the pupils take on board and practise the health and fitness messages put out by the school. I often hear 10-year-olds speaking authoritatively about the need for a healthy diet while they munch on their bags of crisps

- 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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