QA - Ask an inspector

31st October 2008 at 00:00

Q: I am responsible for supporting gifted and talented pupils in my school. We have a register that identifies able pupils' talents but it only covers a small number of our pupils. I have read that Ofsted expects 10 per cent of pupils to be gifted and talented. What should I do?

A: Recent guidelines from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (not Ofsted) suggest that the top 5 per cent of secondary pupils ought to be considered gifted and catered for accordingly. Other guidance has put the figure from primary upwards as high as 10 per cent. Percentages, however, are only guidelines and not cut-off points.

If a school is merely drawing a line in a mark book and categorising the percentage above the line as gifted, then it is not doing what is expected to identify individual pupils' specific talents.

Inspectors are more likely to be impressed with tailored provision that meets the specific needs of identified able pupils than by a list that catalogues a mathematically selected percentage.

Q: Our local authority has given us a list of the information that has to be included in our single central record of Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks. It's a long list and includes every teacher's qualifications, birth date and address. We have the information but ours is a large staff and we also have lots of other adult helpers for whom we have CRBs. How can we put all this information together on a single sheet that will satisfy inspectors?

A: I think the misunderstanding here is over what constitutes a single central record. It doesn't mean all the information has to be on the same single sheet of paper, just that it has to be kept together - for example in a single folder.

If you can hand inspectors a single file containing an overview of all the staff, their CRB details, the action taken to address variations in the information available and the location of individual staff CRB files then they can form a view as to whether the details you have gathered meet Government requirements. If you have to scramble through filing cabinets to pull the information together, then you probably are not meeting requirements for a single central record.

Q: I work in a nursery school. We were surprised to find that an inspector turned up unannounced. Was it a mistake? I thought schools were given two days' notice.

A: Although two days' notice is the norm for most schools, settings that cater for babies and pre-school children are subject to inspection without notice. This is to ensure, for example, that mandatory arrangements for children's and babies' welfare are always in place

Selwyn has been an inspector for 15 years, working in primary and secondary schools. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at

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