Schools minister Nick Gibb asks Ofsted to review ‘its current risk assessment arrangements’ and increase the proportion of outstanding schools and colleges which are inspected to 10%. But he will not lift the exemption, he says in a letter to Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.
Gibb was responding to Ofsted concerns that a rising number of outstanding schools had not been inspected for many years. This, surely, means the inspection rating is out-of-date - especially true when outstanding schools which are now academies were inspected when under local authority stewardship.
The schools minister says outstanding schools inspected within the 10% will be triggered when ‘Ofsted’s risk assessment indicates there may be concerns.’
In other words, Ofsted won’t be expected to inspect outstanding schools where league table results remain high or when there are no complaints about safeguarding.
This risks outstanding schools with intakes skewed towards previously high-performing pupils providing education which is not high quality. High results can mask a narrowed curriculum, unstimulating teaching and spoon feeding.
Gibb tells Spielman the exemption was introduced in 2012 to ensure inspections took place proportionately. This means Ofsted could concentrate on schools less than good. An admirable policy, you might think. But it allows outstanding judgements to remain in place for far too long.
Any school judged outstanding many years ago is not the same school as it was when inspected. There have been seismic changes in school structures, curriculum and exams. The emphasis on results has increased which, as the OECD warned in 2011*, can have negative consequences.
Gibb does not seem to recognise this. Instead, he is content for outstanding schools to remain outstanding just so long as their results don’t raise concerns
*downloadable here - scroll to pages 100 onwards