Headteachers reject Ofsted’s plans for pre-inspection visits

Written by: Chris Parr | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Changes to the Ofsted framework that would see inspectors paying an on-site visit to schools the day before an inspection begins have gone down “like cold vomit” among headteachers and could be scrapped, a conference has heard.

According to Steve Rollett, curriculum and inspection expert at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), there has been “a lot of negativity” from teachers and school leaders about proposals that would see schools visited the day before an inspection is officially underway.

Speaking at the ASCL annual conference in Birmingham last week, he said: “If I was to say this has gone down in the sector like cold vomit, that’s probably pretty accurate.

“I can’t tell you that this won’t happen – because of course it is out there, and we do know that Ofsted has got some pretty clear plans about what they want to achieve as a result of this framework. But if I was a betting person, this is the part of the consultation that I would say is less likely to make it through.”

Under the proposals, schools would receive a phone call at around 10am to notify them that the lead inspector will arrive on-site no earlier than 12:30pm.

The visit is “to gain an overview of the school’s recent performance and any changes since the last inspection”, and would replace current pre-inspection discussions, which happen remotely.

While the pre-inspection visit should not officially inform the substance of the inspection outcome, Mr Rollett said there was concern about how this might work in practice

“Ofsted’s line that the inspection doesn’t start until the next day is questionable,” he said. “If (an inspector is) on site and they see something going on … whether they write it on an evidence form or not, are they able to get that out of their mind? I am not sure that they can. That is a very difficult conundrum to solve.”

An Ofsted spokeswoman told SecEd that feedback about on-site preparation from an on-going pilot project had been “generally positive”.

She added: “More than half of those who gave us feedback after their pilot told us that on-site preparation is more effective than existing arrangements. The chance to build a professional relationship with the lead inspectors in advance of the inspection starting the following day was particularly well received.”

The consultation over Ofsted’s proposed new Education Inspection Framework closes on April 5. The framework is due to come into effect in September.

  • Consultation: Education Inspection Framework 2019: Inspecting the substance of education, Ofsted, January 2019 (consultation closes April 5, 2019): http://bit.ly/2MrflYh


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