11th January 2008 at 00:00
Q: When we were last inspected, I tried to track down my inspector to get feedback but it proved impossible because he was in continuous meetings. We are in special measures and have inspectors returning who will be expecting us to have improved but I don't know what I need to improve on because I didn't get feedback. We have been told that the new inspectors will probably have the paperwork on us - isn't this unfair?

A: The inspector who comes to check on the school's progress while it is in special measures will not have access to the evidence forms from the school's last inspection. If teaching was an inspection issue, the monitoring inspector will want to see what the school has done to improve teaching. That should not be dependent on the observations from the previous inspection but on school managers' monitoring of teaching and learning and the feedback, guidance and support they have given to teachers.

Q: We are expecting a monitoring inspection in the next few weeks because we are in special measures. Can we expect two or three days? Do they come in on a Friday? Also, do these observations count towards our three hours of performance management observations for the year?

A: Depending on the circumstances and size of school, your first monitoring visit is likely to be just one or two days.

It may just be one inspector (not necessarily an HMI) but it could be more. The monitoring inspector should get to know the school quite well because they will visit - or at least keep in contact with the school - every term until they take the school out of special measures or it is fully reinspected after two years. Like routine (section 5) inspections, monitoring inspections can be on any day of the week, including Friday. Inspectors' lesson observations are not counted towards performance management.

Q: Are inspectors informed as to the length of service of each member of staff at a school and which staff are temporary and which are permanent? We have a mixed bag of long-term supply, temps and permanent staff.

A: They will only know this if the school tells them. I find it quite helpful to have this information so that I know, for example, whether staff with leadership responsibilities have only just taken them on or have had them for some time, so I usually make a point of asking, but it's a good idea for heads to volunteer the information even if the question hasn't been asked. Schools should always tell inspectors where classes have other than their usual teacher, but teachers on long-term supply are just as likely to be observed as others.

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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