Sir Michael Wilshaw said the new-look inspections will “start from a premise that the school is still good” and focus on ensuring standards have been maintained.
It came as Ofsted published its new Common Inspection Framework (CIF) and associated documentation to enable schools to prepare for the new regime in September.
Launching the new Framework on Monday (June 15), Sir Michael also said that he intends to open up Ofsted’s complaints process to “greater accountability”.
The CIF is to take effect from September and will cover inspections across all sectors – from early years to colleges. The aim is to introduce a common language across inspection reports to help provide clarity for parents. There will be specific inspection handbooks for each sector, but the four core Ofsted judgements will remain constant across all sectors.
A key part of the new Framework is the shorter one-day inspection of schools rated “good”, which are to take place every three years.
Schools rated as less than good will continue to receive regular inspection visits, although new headteachers of requiring improvement schools may be given more time in post before an inspection takes place. Outstanding schools will continue to be exempt from Section 5 inspections.
Speaking at the launch, Sir Michael said that the one-day inspections will check that leaders have identified areas of concerns and have the capacity to address them.
He said: “Make no mistake, this is a very different inspection model to what has gone before.
“The starting assumption of Her Majesty’s inspectors will be that the school or college is good. This should engender an atmosphere in which honest, challenging, professional dialogue can take place.
“Leaders will have nothing to fear from accurately identifying at the outset any weaknesses in their provision – as well as the strengths – based on their own evaluation. HMI will be looking to see that the leadership has a clear understanding of the key areas for development – and a credible and effective plan for addressing these.
“Short inspections will reduce the burden of inspection without losing the rigour which parents and the public rightly expect.”
The one-day inspections will be led by one or two HMIs and Ofsted has said that “where HMI feel more evidence is necessary to confirm the judgement, or to establish whether the school may have improved or declined, the visit will be converted to a full inspection and continue, most commonly, for an additional day”. Ofsted has said that any conversion to full inspection will happen quickly.
On the changes to complaints processes, Sir Michael said that each Ofsted region is to set up a scrutiny committee made up of HMI and leading headteachers who are not involved in inspection. The committees will “assess and rule on the internal reviews of complaints about inspection” with the ruling to be binding on Ofsted.
Elsewhere, there are plans for Ofsted to recognise “exceptional leaders” by sending them a letter acknowledging their achievements, with a copy also to go to the secretary of state for education.
Sir Michael also said that from September, inspectors would be directly contracted to the inspectorate – with the use of out-sourced inspection ending – and that seven out of 10 inspectors will be “serving practitioners from good and outstanding schools and colleges”.
Reacting to the new Framework, the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We are pleased that the emphasis in Ofsted’s revised school inspection handbook will be on assessing schools on the outcomes they achieve for students, particularly in terms of the progress made at school.”
The CIF and associated materials are at www.gov.uk/ofsted