Chief inspector promises new heads more time


New headteachers in schools judged to be requiring improvement will be given the chance to discuss with Ofsted the scheduling of their next inspection, Sir Michael Wilshaw has promised.

In a letter to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the chief inspector has asked for any headteacher in this position to make contact with their Ofsted regional director in order for these discussions to take place.

It comes after ASCL had previously raised concerns about the extent to which school leaders are being put off from working in schools judged as requiring improvement or inadequate because of the threat of immediate Ofsted inspection.

A position paper on inspection, released ahead of the union’s annual conference in March, called for school leaders in this position to be given time to turn things around.

Speaking at the same event, Sir Michael promised he would review the inspection schedule of schools requiring improvement with relatively new leadership.

Now, in a letter to ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman earlier this month, Sir Michael said: “I recognise that the headteachers of these schools need to be given sufficient time to address the various difficulties that face them, and ... Ofsted needs to play its part in encouraging our best and most ambitious leaders to go into our most challenging schools.

“It is for these reasons that I am asking recently appointed headteachers of Requires Improvement schools to contact, in writing, the relevant Ofsted regional director to describe the context of their school’s present position.

“The regional director will then allocate an HMI to the school to discuss with the headteacher the most appropriate scheduling for the next inspection.”

Mr Lightman said: “We warmly welcome Ofsted’s recognition that headteachers need time to improve their schools. The commitment to a professional dialogue prior to a formal inspection is a hugely helpful move.

“We all agree that improving schools in more challenging or difficult contexts has to be a top priority. In order to achieve that demanding objective we need to ensure that the best teachers and school leaders are fully incentivised to work in those schools. A constructive relationship with Ofsted where inspection becomes part of the solution can only benefit the young people in these schools.”


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