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New approach to short school inspections announced by Ofsted

12/12/2017 Joanna

Schools regulator Ofsted has confirmed that a new approach to short inspections will be introduced in January 2018.

Under the new rules, inspectors will continue to convert short inspections of good schools into longer ones if they have serious concerns about safeguarding or behaviour, or if they think the quality of education has declined to an inadequate rating. This will usually take place within 48 hours.

In cases where the short inspection raises no significant issues with safeguarding or behaviour, but potential concerns are flagged up about the quality of education or leadership and management, the inspection will not be converted, with Ofsted instead publishing a letter setting out the school's strengths and areas for improvement.

This will be followed by a section 5 inspection taking place within one or two years, giving the school time to address any weaknesses and seek support from appropriate bodies, while retaining their current rating.

Finally, when inspectors believe a school may be improving towards an outstanding rating, a similar letter laying out strengths and weaknesses will be published, followed by a section 5 inspection two years. This allows the school to consolidate its strong practice, and to request an early follow-up inspection where appropriate.

Ofsted's national director of education Sean Harford said: "These new arrangements reflect our overall aim to act as a force for improvement through inspection, and to catch schools before they fall.

"We're confident they will ensure short inspections are responsible interventions that minimise the burden on schools, while at the same time providing constructive support and more time to improve."

The new changes are being implemented after a consultation that ran during September revealed that a majority of respondents supported each of the proposals. More than 1,500 responses to the online questionnaire were submitted, with responses also gathered from direct engagement with parents, headteachers, teaching unions and professional associations.

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