Inspectors will spend more time in schools during short inspections, Spielman tells MPs

The head of Ofsted has sought to reassure MPs that inspectors will soon spend more time on site during short inspections of schools.

In September, the powerful parliamentary public accounts committee warned that short, one-day inspections of ‘good’-rated schools do not allow enough time to make a “meaningful assessment of a school’s performance on to help schools improve”.

In a letter to the committee published today, Amanda Spielman confirmed the inspectorate’s new framework will “review the role played by short inspections”.

This builds on comments made by Spielman in an interview with Schools Week in October, in which she explained how she expected short inspections to “evolve” to fit the watchdog’s new broader approach to curriculum.

It also follows a pledge by Spielman to rebalance inspector time more generally across all inspections, “so that more time is spent on site, having those professional conversations with leaders and teachers, with less time away from schools and colleges in pre and post-inspection activity”.

In today’s letter, the chief inspector said Ofsted had been conducting pilot inspections over the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms to “test options for revisions of these inspections”, and said the results so far had “given me confidence that we will be able to allocate more inspector time to on site activities, which I hope will address some of the committee’s concerns.”

She said she believes short inspections provide “sufficient assurance that a school remains good”, but accepted it does not have the “same level of detailed inspection and assurance” as a full inspection.

“I have been clear I want to use the opportunity presented by the new framework to maximise the amount of time that inspectors spend on site, engaging with school leaders, teachers and pupils,” Spielman said.

“To do this, we believe it is necessary to review the role played by ‘short inspections’, also known as ‘section 8 inspections of good schools’, given that they now constitute the majority of school inspections.”

Ofsted signals end of Parent View system

Spielman also announced in the letter that Ofsted is in the early stages of replacing Parent View, the system currently used to gather the opinions of parents during inspections.

The new system will be designed to “increase the volume, quality and diversity of views” collected, and will involve “new style reports” which are more accessible, Spielman said.

Ofsted will launch a public consultation into proposals for the new framework next month, with the aim of introducing the final framework by September 2019.