On 5 December 2017, Ofsted published a response to its second consultation on short inspections of good schools that confirmed it was pressing ahead with changes to inspection arrangements from January 2018.
Taken together with the outcomes and changes set out following the first consultation, the inspection arrangements for schools judged to be good at their most recent inspection are now as follows:
- About 20 per cent of good schools will be selected for a full section 5 inspection rather than a section 8 short inspection. Ofsted’s handbook states that this ‘…will occur when Ofsted’s risk assessment process indicates that the quality of provision may have deteriorated significantly.’
- Other good schools will ‘normally’ receive a one-day short inspection; the outcome of which could be one of the following:
- An inspection letter confirming that the school remains good. The maximum permitted inspection interval for the school will be reset, and the school will receive a further short inspection about three years later (subject to risk assessment – see above)
- Where there is evidence to suggest a school may have improved from good to outstanding, an inspection letter will be provided, and the school will be informed that it will receive a full section 5 inspection within one to two years
- Where the lead inspector is not satisfied that a school would remain good under a full inspection, an inspection letter will be provided, and the school will be informed that its next inspection will be a full section 5, ‘ which will typically take place within two years’
- Where there is evidence that suggests a school may be inadequate in one or more of the graded judgements that would be made during a section 5 inspection, the inspection will be ‘converted’ to a full inspection, usually within 48 hours.
Outstanding special schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units will continue to receive short inspections at about three-year intervals to confirm that the quality of education remains good or outstanding. The possible outcomes of the inspection follow the model above. Ofsted has maintained its policy to make no differentiation for these outstanding schools, which are not covered by the exemption regulations.
Notwithstanding the above, the chief inspector has powers to inspect a school where she has cause to do so, under section 8. Ofsted usually conducts such inspections under its ‘no formal designation’ policy as set out at paragraph 22 of its School inspection handbook. The arrangements and policy for the conduct of short inspections, and other section 8 inspections, are set out in Ofsted’s Section 8 handbook.
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