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Ofsted U-turn on no-notice policy

Ofsted's controversial chief inspector has made a U-turn on one of his key policies.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has backed down on contentious plans to give schools no notice ahead of inspections, saying they will instead be notified the afternoon before.

But proposals to scrap the "satisfactory" grade were given the go-ahead and are likely to upset headteachers' unions as it is likely to leave more schools in special measures.

At present a school can be judged as outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate but from September "satisfactory" will be replaced with "requires improvement" in order to tackle the number of schools that have maintained a satisfactory rating over a number of inspections without improving.

It will mean Ofsted will reinspect those found to require improvement sooner than under current inspection arrangements. While better-performing schools will be reinspected within two years, further education and skills providers found to require improvement will be reinspected within 12 to 18 months.

The Ofsted chief confirmed that if a school has been judged to require improvement at two consecutive inspections and is still not providing a good education at the third, Ofsted is likely to find the school to be inadequate at that inspection and be placed in special measures.

Sir Michael prompted an outcry from school leaders when he originally suggested the move, soon after taking up his post as chief inspector in January. They said it would only increase the stress on schools and have a negative effect on the workforce and pupils.

Announcing the results of the 12-week consultation, A good education for all, he said the changes are expected to come into force from September 1.

Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "Ofsted is discredited in the eyes of many teachers and needs to even work harder to regain their trust."

She added: "While giving schools virtually no notice of an inspection may make parents think that inspectors are seeing what really goes on in schools, the reality is that it means teachers, heads and support staff are in a state of constant anxiety, measuring and recording everything in case inspectors turn up."


From Belfast Telegraph