Ofsted confirms changes to short inspections following consultation

Ofsted has confirmed it will go ahead with plans to change the way it carries out short inspections of good-rated schools from next month.

Under the new plans, set out in September, inspectors will continue to convert short inspections into full inspections, usually within 48 hours, if they have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education provided.

However, if there are no “significant issues” with safeguarding or behaviour, but inspectors have concerns about the quality of education, leadership or management, instead of converting the inspection Ofsted will publish a letter outlining areas for improvement.

A full inspection will then take place within one to two years, to give the school time to address weaknesses. Ofsted said that, in the meantime, its letter will make it clear that the school’s overall rating has not changed.

If inspectors believe a school is moving towards an outstanding judgement, Ofsted will publish a letter confirming the school is still good and setting out how it can improve. A full inspection will then take place in one to two years, but these schools can apply for an early inspection.

Ofsted ran its consultation after receiving feedback that short inspections that immediately convert to full inspections were challenging for schools and inspectors.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education, said the new arrangements reflected the body’s aim “to act as a force for improvement through inspection, and to catch schools before they fall”.

“We’re confident they will ensure short inspections are responsible interventions that minimise the burden on schools, while at the same time providing constructive support and more time to improve.”

Ofsted’s consultation into short inspections ran from September 21 until November 8, and gathered more than 1,500 responses.

The watchdog previously ditched plans to give schools up to 15 days notice of inspections.