Inspectors should be 'sensitive' selecting small school 'deep dives'

Inspectors have been told to be “sensitive” in which subjects they choose for “deep dives” at smaller schools.

The warning comes after schools reported concerns over the deep dives, however Ofsted said overall new inspections are “going well”.

One area of concern was curriculum leads in smaller schools – who oversee several subjects – spending extended time out of class during inspections.

Ofsted told inspectors to ensure that no leaders have to cover more than one deep dive.

The school inspection update, published today, added: “We are therefore asking lead inspectors to be sensitive in selecting deep dives in these schools.”

This approach had already been used by inspectors and was “proving constructive and useful”.

The update was to address “teething issues” with the new framework.

But Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, said they have heard of schools “genuinely feeling refreshed at the quality of professional dialogue they are able to have with inspection teams”.

Leaders also reported being able to “celebrate the work that their teams are doing on behalf of young people, which they feel was not recognised under the previous framework”, he said.

The new inspection handbook was also amended.

It now states that inspectors will “visit” lessons under deep dives, rather than the original “observe” lessons.

Another clause has been removed related to inspecting careers advice to align the framework with changes made earlier in the summer.

A clause that would see schools rated ‘inadequate’ if they fail to offer good careers advice was ditched in the new framework.

The inspectorate has now removed a clause that remained in the framework on good careers advice for sixth-formers – to align to the earlier change.