Government confirms 638% hike in small private school inspection fees

The government will press ahead with plans to hike the basic amount some small private schools pay for Ofsted inspections by more than 600 per cent.

Following a consultation on proposals announced last October, the Department for Education announced today that the changes will go ahead.

This is despite the majority of respondents to the consultation being opposed to the increases in fees.

The changes mean schools with between 100 and 150 pupils on roll will see the basic amount they are charged for each inspection rise from £600 to £4,425, an increase of more than £3,800, or 638 per cent.

Fees for schools with between 151 and 399 pupils will increase from £4,998 to £5,997, while charges for schools with 400 or more pupils will rise from £4,998 to £6,696.

Even the smallest schools, those with fewer than 100 pupils, fees for each inspection will rise from £600 to £900.

Non-association independent schools are inspected every three years, but pay a third of their fees each year to spread the cost.

Under the proposed changes, smaller private schools will also see an increase in the surcharge they pay on top of the basic fees.

Schools with up to 150 pupils currently have to pay an additional £9 per pupil, per year. This will rise to £12, but will only apply to schools with up to 120 pupils once the changes take effect.

Of the 60 respondents to the government’s consultation, of which most were schools, 36, or 60 per cent, said the proposed increase in fees for standard inspections was unreasonable.

“Given that the proposals involved higher costs for the schools which formed most of the respondents, it was unsurprising that a majority were not in favour of higher fees for standard inspections,” said the government in its response.

“But the picture was in fact a mixed one, with a substantial minority recognising that the proposed increases were reasonable. There was also a substantial body of support for introduction of new fee categories.”

In approving the proposals, the DfE has also signed off on a new charge for “pre-registration inspections” for new private schools asking for approval from the government to open.

Two-year-old pupils will also be included in Ofsted’s calculations of the number of pupils at a school, thereby increasing fees for those that take younger pupils.

A “reduced tariff” for inspection fees currently charged when Ofsted only carries out a “light touch” inspection will also be removed, because the government now says private schools should undergo full inspections every three years.

A rule that says the inspectorate can currently only charge a private school once per year, no matter how many inspections are carried out at a schools, will also be shaken up.

The changes will come into force from April.