4th January 2008 at 00:00
Q: When we were last inspected, strategic planning was a key issue. We are due for a monitoring inspection shortly. What do we need to put in place?

A: There is no Ofsted-approved format for strategic planning and inspectors would not seek to impose one. What inspectors do expect to see is that school leaders, including governors, are evaluating what the school does well and where improvements are needed, that they set out clear action plans to achieve those improvements and that it is clear who is responsible for what.

The format the school adopts for its strategic planning must be a useful tool for school leaders, not something that is produced simply to satisfy some external demand for documentation.

To be useful, I'd expect good quality strategic plans to set out clear timescales for planned action, along with objectively measurable criteria so that governors and staff can assess whether the action taken has been effective.

Q: I am at a school on a notice to improve. The Sats results have improved and we are now due the one year follow-up visit, following an HMI visit earlier in the year. Can you tell me what to expect?

A: What you are expecting is not actually a follow-up visit but the school's next ordinary inspection. Schools that are given a notice to improve can expect a visit about six to eight months after its inspection where an inspector will check on progress.

The school can expect a full re-inspection 12 to 16 months after the original inspection. That inspection will cover all of the usual elements of the standard inspection framework but, just as all inspections are tailored to the individual circumstances of the school, you can expect your inspectors to identify specific issues to be explored and these will obviously include the areas from the last inspection that were found to most need improvement.

Q: What is the staff-pupil ratio that inspectors will expect to see for supervision of playtimes?

A: I am not aware of any set ratio enshrined in law. Playgrounds differ widely from school to school. Levels of supervision that may be perfectly adequate in one school may be insufficient in another where, for example, there are lots of nooks and crannies.

Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at

Selwyn regularly answers your Ofsted questions on our forums at

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