Ofsted to discuss ‘unusually long gaps’ in inspections of outstanding schools

Janet Downs's picture

Ofsted plans to ‘analyse inspection intervals’ for schools rated outstanding and discover ‘reasons for any unusually long gaps’, Minutes of the July Ofsted Board meeting reveal (downloadable here).

Many outstanding schools have not been inspected for eight, nine or ten years.    Exemption from further inspections is given to outstanding schools but there must come a time when such judgements are past their use-by date.

This matters.  Outstanding judgements nearly a decade old are not likely to reflect what is happening in such schools today.  Much has changed in the intervening years with curriculum, exams, tests and Ofsted criteria.

Outstanding schools retain their outstanding status when they convert to academies.  This is despite academies supposedly being new schools opening the day after predecessor schools closed.  This inflates the number of outstanding academies while correspondingly deflating the number of outstanding local authority (LA) maintained schools.  A gift for a politician or media pundit wanting to promote the supposed superiority of academies over LA schools.  They conveniently forget that any outstanding academy which hasn’t been inspected since conversion is boasting an inspection judgement earned when it was an LA school.

It’s encouraging, then, that Ofsted is looking at long gaps since the last inspections.  Re-inspection of schools which haven’t been inspected for nearly a decade is long overdue.

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