Thursday, 13 December 2007


Schools face "snap" visits from Ofsted in a toughening-up of the inspection regime, the Daily Mail writes. Under the proposals, heads will no longer get two days' notice of an inspection - preventing staff sprucing up classrooms and rehearsing lessons. Parents will also be able to trigger inspections outside the usual threeyear cycle under plans to make the service more responsive to local concerns.

The Chief Inspector of Schools Christine Gilbert told MPs that the spot checks could be introduced as early as 2009. She warned that too many schools are still offering inadequate teaching. The crackdown follows warnings from the Commons Education Select Committee that Ofsted's regime has become "too light".

In a report earlier this year, MPs warned that pupils could be left to fail in poor-performing schools because the watchdog now spends as little as a day on inspections every three years.
Giving evidence to the committee, now called the Schools Select Committee, Mrs Gilbert said: "We are considering representations from parents and pupils that inspections should take place without any prior notice. At the heart of any new arrangements will be the observation of teaching and learning by skilled and knowledgeable inspectors."

Currently, "lightning" inspections with no notice take place only when there are serious concerns for the health or the wellbeing of pupils.

Dr John Dunford, of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned the changes would make little difference. He said: "Ofsted should consider the bigger question of whether to do away with mandatory inspection altogether." Shadow children's spokesman Michael Gove said: "I'm delighted Ofsted is seriously considering our suggestion that they should do surprise inspections, not give notice."

I think that this is a good idea. It will give a much more realistic picture of a school and all the different things that take place. It will reduce all the stress beforehand. It must be understood by the inspectors that sometimes Maths and English aren't taught in school every day, and that people will get nervous.

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