short inspection to the most effective schools, were proposed by the
Office for Standards in Education today.
In a consultation paper which will be distributed widely in
operation of a differentiated inspection model. This would be
piloted in 1999 and fully implemented from January 2000.
The principle of a lighter model of inspection for the best
schools has already been accepted by the government; the consultation
exercise, which runs until 25 January 1999, is about how it should
OFSTED anticipates that some 20 to 30 per cent of primary and
secondary schools might match the criteria to be eligible for short
At the same time OFSTED is proposing to reduce the notice of
inspection to all schools from the current two terms to between four
and eight weeks.
The criteria suggested to identify the most effective schools
will combine the following:
- high key stage/GCSE results in English, mathematics and
science compared with all maintained schools and/or
compared with similar schools;
- trend data which show that results have improved at a
better than average rate, taking account of a school's
starting point, or that very high achievements have been
- very favourable findings from the previous inspection,
particularly in relation to teaching, progress, management
and school improvement.
The short inspection, which cannot cover every aspect in the
current Framework or necessarily see every subject or teacher, will
provide a 'health check' for good schools. It will identify good
practice and confirm whether a school remains effective. The short
inspection will focus particularly on standards, the quality of
education provided and leadership and management of the school.
A common element of all inspections will be the summary report,
which will provide parents with the same core of information from
both types of inspection, enabling comparisons to be made.
Inspections will still have to report on whether a school
requires special measures or has serious weaknesses, and evaluate the
rate of school improvement. In addition, inspectors will explicitly
identify 'coasting' schools - those where standards are below what
the pupils are capable of when compared with similar schools.
OFSTED, which is proposing to offer governors of effective
schools the option of a full inspection if they prefer, estimates
that a short inspection will reduce the number of lessons observed by
at least a half and the overall time in school to between 25 and 60
per cent compared to the full model.
Introducing the proposals for consultation, Her Majesty's Chief
Inspector of Schools Chris Woodhead said: 'These proposals are part
of our continuous refinement of inspection to enable resources to be
focused on weaker schools and to offer maximum value for money from
'It is also an opportunity radically to reduce the period of
notice of inspection in response to the complaints about the effects
of apprehension and stress.
'I believe these proposals will offer real benefits without
weakening the crucial function of inspection in monitoring standards
and providing accountability.'
1. The OFSTED consultation paper Proposals for a Differentiated
System of School Inspections will be sent out from week beginning 16
November to all schools, local education and diocesan authorities,
associations representing teachers, governors, parents, inspectors
and other interest groups. Responses are required by Monday 25
January 1999. Copies can also be obtained from the OFSTED
Publications Centre (tel. 0171 510 0180) and from OFSTED's website:
2. Both the long and short inspection models will still meet the
conditions of the 1996 School Inspections Act which require
inspection to report on:
- the quality of education provided
- the educational standards achieved
- the efficiency with which resources are managed
- the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of
3. They will also satisfy the statutory requirement of the regular
inspection of all schools, the production of a report for the
appropriate authority and a summary for parents, and the role of the
registered inspection and lay inspector in every team.
4. If a short inspection reveals significant weaknesses, it is
anticipated that a full inspection of the school would be arranged
within six months. The maximum interval between inspections will
remain six years. For the best schools this will mean a gap of five
or six years between inspections. Schools in special measures or
with serious weaknesses would be inspected again in about two years,
while for the remainder of schools, reinspection is likely to follow
within four or five years.
5. The first inspections of all maintained secondary schools in
England were completed in summer 1997 and of all primary and special
schools in summer 1998. The current inspection framework will
continue to be used for pupil referral units until the initial
inspection cycle is completed.
6. OFSTED is a non-ministerial government department established
under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the
inspection of all schools in England. Its staff include HMI, who
draw on inspection evidence to report on good practice in schools and
on a wide range of other educational issues.
MORRIS WELCOMES OFSTED CONSULTATION ON SCHOOL INSPECTIONS
School standards minister Estelle Morris welcomed the publication
today of Ofsted's consultation paper on the introduction of a new
more focused school inspection regime.
Speaking at today's launch Ms Morris said,
'Ofsted is now a clearly established part of the educational
landscape in England and has a vital role in helping us to raise
school standards. The government has shown it is fully committed to
the regular external inspection of all maintained schools to provide
schools, parents and the local community with independent advice
about how well each school is performing.
'Today's announcement of a shorter, more focused approach for our
best schools, consistent with the principle of intervention in
inverse proportion to success will build on the programme of
inspecting all schools in recent years. This will allow more
resources to be directed towards inspections in underachieving
schools where they are most needed.
'I also welcome today's proposal that all schools will benefit from
a shorter period of notice before inspection. It will reduce the
unnecessary paperwork and stress which teachers and governors feel
resulted from the two terms' notice under the present system and will
allow the inspectors to see schools as they actually are.'
Ms Morris continued,
'The inspection regime proposed today will help identify schools
which are coasting - where pupils may appear to do well in absolute
terms but are not achieving their full potential. Such schools can
now be clearly identified and action must be taken to improve their