Ofsted is planning to reform its inspection procedures in the biggest changes since its formation by adopting a 'light-touch' approach.
Shorter, more efficient monitoring visits are to be carried out in place of full evaluations for most institutions, due to the greatly improved quality of state schools. This will allow parents to receive more timely information, the Guardian reports.
The regulator is currently readying itself for criticism from two right-wing think tanks, Civitas and Policy Exchange.
Details of the changes, which are still being finalised, are likely to be announced later in the month by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools and the head of Ofsted, after consultation with the Department for Education.
Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted's national director for schools, said the regulator has played a crucial role in raising standards across the country since 1992.
He rejected calls for separate inspectorates for free schools or academies on the grounds that such a regime would be confusing for parents.
"It would be an absolute nonsense, including in the eyes of parents, who want a single and reliable system for reporting on schools - whether it's a maintained school or an academy or a free school," he commented.
"Ofsted will report on the different types of schools in equal measure - and we won't pull our punches if we think that schools are not doing well enough."
Headteachers and teaching unions are expected to welcome the new changes, as some have expressed concern regarding the current system of inspections.
Under the proposed reforms, the timeline of a "section five" inspection, in which a team attends lessons over the course of two or three days before issuing a judgement ranging from "outstanding" to "adequate", would be ended.
In its place, a smaller team would make brief but frequent visits to a school to report on its progress and a full inspection would only be considered if there is cause for concern.
The reforms could mean good schools could go for several cycles before they are subject to a full inspection. According to Mr Cladingbowl, this reflects the fact that eight out of ten English schools are now rated as good.
Posted by Tim Colman