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Ofsted launches consultation on changes to school inspection in England

Above: Ofsted image

Ofsted Monday launched a consultation on the inspection of maintained schools and academies in England. The changes follow proposals announced in the 2011 Education Bill and aim to re-focus school inspection on what matters most: the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, backed by excellent leadership and management, and good discipline and behaviour in schools. The consultation seeks views on the detail of how Ofsted will implement these changes.

The consultation also seeks views on when Ofsted should inspect. Outstanding schools will no longer be subject to routine inspections unless concerns about their performance are identified, and the consultation asks for views on the factors inspectors should consider when assessing whether an inspection is needed. In addition, it asks for views on plans to carry out more frequent inspections of weaker schools and on the circumstances in which schools may request an inspection.

Launching the consultation, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:

'Inspection is at the heart of school improvement. Since Ofsted was created in 1992, inspectors have helped identify the strengths and weaknesses of schools, encouraging improvement, sharing good practice and reducing failure.

'These proposals build on this experience and will give inspectors the chance to take an even closer look at those elements that impact most on improving standards for children and young people. In particular, we expect inspectors to spend even more time in the classroom, with a renewed emphasis on reading and literacy skills and the quality of teaching and learning.

'I hope that everyone with an interest in education will help us to shape the way schools are inspected and use this consultation to provide their views.'

As well as the consultation, Ofsted will be testing the new inspection arrangements in pilot inspections, with a view to introducing the new system in January 2012, subject to the successful passage of the Education Bill.

The consultation runs until 20 May and can be accessed online at  or requested from the Ofsted enquiry service by calling 0300 123 4234 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0300 123 4234      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

From 2012, we propose that school inspections will:

  • Report on the quality of the education provided by the school, giving priority to the achievement of its pupils and their behaviour and safety, the quality of teaching and the quality of leadership and management of the school.
  • Take account of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and the extent to which the education provided enables every pupil to achieve her or his potential, particularly disabled pupils and pupils who have special educational needs.
  • Be more streamlined, giving greater priority to detailed observation of teaching and learning.
  • Take particular account of pupils’ attainment and rates of progress when evaluating achievement.
  • Focus strongly on standards of reading and numeracy in primary schools and literacy in secondary schools.
  • Use measures of relative progress other than contextual value-added indicators.
  • Give more emphasis to reporting on pupils’ behaviour, with particular attention to conduct in lessons and around the school, and each pupil’s safety from bullying and harassment.
  • Focus more of the available inspection time on evaluating the quality of teaching and the use of assessment to support effective learning.
  • Evaluate how well reading is taught in primary schools and literacy is taught in secondary schools.
  • Judge the effectiveness of leadership and management, especially the leadership of teaching and learning.
  • Judge the overall effectiveness of the school by giving more weight to the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievement, their behaviour and the impact of leadership and management, including how well the school promotes the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils.
  • Report on the effectiveness of sixth form and early years provision within the other reporting areas rather than as separate sections.

Ofsted also proposes to:

  • Continue to take account of self-evaluation evidence in the form adopted by the school.
  • Undertake annual risk assessment of good and outstanding schools beginning three years after their latest inspection.
  • Stop the routine inspection of most schools judged outstanding at their last inspection.
  • Inspect schools previously judged as good within five years of their last inspection.
  • Take greater account of the views of parents and carers in deciding when a school should be inspected.
  • Strengthen our monitoring of satisfactory schools.
  • Target inspection to bring about more rapid improvement in schools judged to be inadequate.
  • Respond more flexibly to requests made by schools for an inspection.

Notes for Editors

1. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

2. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 5911 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              020 7421 5911      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0300 1231231      end_of_the_skype_highlighting between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              07919 057359      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.