Ofsted consultation on proposed changes to short inspections

Monday 26th June 2017

Ofsted has announced that it wants to consult to increase the time in which a short inspection becomes a full inspection from 48 hours to anything up to 15 working days. The closing date for this consultation is 18 August 2017.

The consultation is ten pages long with answers being tick boxes or text boxes etc. I would envisage the survey taking no longer than 30 minutes. It is important that individual schools respond to this consultation. This guidance is designed to help you decide whether you wish to respond to this consultation.

Three ways to respond:

  1. Online electronically visit – www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ShortInspections
  2. Download and email – www.gov.uk/government/consultations/short-inspections-of-good-schools
  3. Print and post – www.gov.uk/government/consultations/short-inspections-of-good-schools.

Send to Schools Policy Team, Floor 8, Ofsted, Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6SE

Ofsted’s Proposals

Ofsted proposes the following changes to take effect from October 2017

  • When a short inspection is ‘converted’ to a section 5 inspection, an inspection team will return to the school within 15 working days to complete the inspection (unless the inspection has raised safeguarding concerns where the ‘expectation’ is that the inspection will be completed within 48 hours)
  • Some schools will be scheduled for a section 5 inspection, not a short inspection, where Ofsted’s ‘regional intelligence’ and risk assessment indicates this would be appropriate. All other good schools will continue to receive a short inspection.

Approximately 3 in 10 short inspections convert to a section 5 inspection. There are 3 possible reasons for this:

  • Inspectors have concerns about safeguarding, or
  • There is evidence of improved performance that suggests the school may be outstanding, or
  • There is insufficient evidence to satisfy inspectors that the school remains good, or there are concerns

Since their introduction, two thirds of short inspections have confirmed that the school continues to be a good school without the need for any additional inspection activity.

School leaders have told Ofsted that they like short inspections. In 2016 78% of senior leaders told Ofsted that short inspections for good schools had been a positive change in the way Ofsted inspects, compared to 71% in 2015. Short inspections should be collaborative and they encourage constructive and professional dialogue between inspectors and school leaders.

Schools’ experience of conversion within 48 hours is sometimes negative. School leaders have told Ofsted it can be ‘overwhelming’ to both understand the reasons for conversion and adjust to the arrival of the extended team.

The danger of the new proposals converting to a section 5 is that schools could spend unnecessary time working on issues and increase teacher ‘workload’ and stress leading up to the second day of the inspection. Ofsted state in their consultation; “The inspector will also seek to reassure classroom teachers that there would be no need to do any extra preparation for the follow up inspection”.

Ofsted also state “We are not proposing any changes to the purpose of a short inspection or to short inspection methodology”.

Russell Hobby from the NAHT comments;

“Short inspections were welcomed by school leaders as a step towards reducing the burden associated with inspection. These proposals could have the opposite effect. Huge pressure would be loaded on staff in the weeks between short and full inspection. It will be akin to extending the period of inspection from three days to over three weeks. This hardly reduces the burden”.

He goes on to say;

“In potentially solving one problem, by creating greater certainty for inspectors over working patterns, another much bigger problem is created, that of equity. If one school is given three weeks to put in place changes, and another just a few days, can we really say the inspection system is being fair”?


Pam Langmead