Ofsted has missed its target for the number of short inspections it carries out for the second year running – although the watchdog seems to be catching up on a backlog of planned school visits.

The watchdog’s annual report and accounts, published this morning, shows that the number of Ofsted inspections carried out this year was 39,700, down on the 44,700 last year.

While Ofsted said it is on track to meet its target for “constrained” inspections this year, the document states it has missed the short inspections quota for the second year.

As the watchdog did not meet the short inspection target last year, an “aspirational target” was set for 2016-17 to “deal with this shortfall”.

However the annual report states: “We delivered a higher volume of these inspections than last year, though still short of target.”

The report stated that the challenge to deliver short inspections was because of “the challenges on recruiting and sourcing high calibre inspectors”.

But the watchdog says it has trained more experienced Ofsted inspectors to lead the inspections, improving its ability to deliver them.

Schools Week reported in November that Ofsted was also offering cash incentives to lure less experienced inspectors into leading more school visits.

The intervention followed reports last year that schools were waiting months for inspections, after Ofsted axed nearly half its additional inspector workforce, employed as contractors, to being them in-house.

But the annual report shows it is catching up on the inspection backlog. A total of 83 per cent of planned inspections in maintained schools or academies were completed this year.

It’s a vast improvement on 2015-16, when only 67 per cent were completed. However independent school visits fell from 73 per cent in 2015-16, to 71 per cent last year.

It also appears Ofsted has learnt how to provide inspections even cheaper. The watchdog has lost £54 million in funding since 2010-11, but carried out only five per cent fewer inspections this year than in 2011.

Schools Week reported in June last year the watchdog has saved more than £3 million by delaying inspections, amid concerns about the lack of available inspectors.