More than 100 schools in England have not had full in Ofsted inspections in a decade, analysis by Schools Week reveals. Overall, 1,200 schools in England had not had a full Ofsted inspection in seven years.
Owing to a policy introduced by the coalition government in 2011, schools graded ‘outstanding’ are exempt from further routine inspections, as long as data proves they are ‘maintaining their performance’. Exempt schools are monitored by Ofsted’s risk assessment criteria, being assessed academic performance and pupil attendance. However, there are now concerns that this procedure does not work to the same standard as Ofsted inspections , and misses important assessment areas such as safeguarding and welfare.
Now, unions are asking the government to review the Ofsted policy, saying such an approach is dangerous. Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders said:
“Ofsted does have to prioritise what they are doing, but 10 years is way too long for them not to have picked up on a re-inspection.
The risk assessment procedure will not necessarily cover everything that is going on. It is important for all aspects of school life be accounted for.”
A spokesperson for Ofsted said the organisation had “no plans at the moment to change” the exemption and noted it was the government, not the inspectorate, that created the policy in the first place.
A Department for Education spokesperson said that while outstanding schools were exempt from routine inspection, they were still subject to accountability measures.
Malcolm Trobe said his union would be requesting that Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, who entered her role this month, would provide clarity on who was responsible for inspections of exempt schools, and “open up debate” on the ‘outstanding’ category. Spielman had said during a parliamentary sessions last year, that she was looking to scrap the rating completely. Trobe added:
“Obviously you want schools to have high aspirations so you can see why you want an outstanding grade to be available. But there are a number of reasons why, particularly given the shortness of a lot of inspections now, as to how the judgment can be made in the amount of person-hours spent coming up with such an important decision.”