Weak schools will get longer breather between Ofsted inspections

Schools with “serious weaknesses” will get an additional year to turn around their fortunes under changes announced by Ofsted today.

The watchdog will increase the maximum time between inspections of ‘inadequate’-rated schools that are considered by inspectors to have serious weaknesses – from 18 months to “up to 30 months”.

The ‘serious weakness’ label is applied to schools in the ‘inadequate’ category where performance requires significant improvement, but leaders and managers have demonstrated the capacity to improve. If there is no such capacity demonstrated, a school gets put in special measures.

The maximum gap between inspections of schools in special measures will also increase, from 24 months to up to 30.

There are also significant changes for schools rated ‘good’, which will now wait up to four years rather than three for a a one-day “short” inspection.

The changes are being made to give inspectors “greater discretion about the date of reinspection,” said Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of education.

It’s not all being done out of the goodness of the inspectorate’s heart, however. After a similar announcement for general further education colleges made last week, Ofsted admitted to Schools Week’s sister paper FE Week that it would save £400,000 over the next academic year from a similar change.

Ofsted is increasing the maximum amount of time between inspections for ‘good’ further education providers from three to five years.

Schools which are rated ‘requires improvement’ are already reinspected within a 30-month time period, so the new announcements do not affect them.

Harford added that regular monitoring of ‘RI’ and ‘inadequate’ schools will “continue as it is now”, and if a school needs to be inspected more urgently “we will still have the flexibility to do so”.

The changes are effective immediately.

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