Memorandum from OFSTED
I am now writing to let you have details of
the decisions made in the light of the very full consultation
on school inspection arrangements from 2003. These outcomes owe
much to the quality of discussion during the consultation period,
and the large number of written responses we received. We are
very grateful for the efforts made, at a very busy time, which
have enabled us to draw on such a wide range of views.
I am enclosing a summary of the outcomes on
each consultation issue. It refers back to the issues set out
in detail in our consultation paper. If you have not kept a copy,
the consultation paper can still be found on our website (www.ofsted.gov.uk)
by following the link to consultations.
Also on the consultation page of the website
is a fuller announcement giving more detail about consultation
responses, issue by issue, and explaining the thinking behind
our decisions. The full MORI report on the 9,000 written responses
to consultation is also available from that source. If you would
like a hard copy of the announcement or the MORI report please
write to Sheila Scales at the address above or e-mail [email protected]
Consultation discussions demonstrated widespread
agreement on two underlying issues.
Inspection has improved significantly
since the first round, and those who have experienced more recent
inspections were most likely to find it a positive, though challenging,
experience. I am not complacent, but it is encouraging that the
next stages of reform can build on these good foundations.
Inspection can be supportive without
losing rigour and objectivity. Schools value a clear and objective
analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and the chance to discuss
it with an impartial observer who can draw on a wide range of
professional experience. It is a powerful aid to development for
individual teachers and for schools as a whole. It is what the
best inspectors do now. It does not mean inspectors turning into
The decisions we have taken about inspection
models respond to messages from consultation. In nursery and primary
schools, high standards in core subjects are important but they
are not enough. Pupils are entitled to a wide range of subjects
and experiences and we want inspection to reflect and encourage
that. We also need to look in more detail at a sample of work
in our best primary, secondary and special schools. They generally
welcome inspection, and can furnish us with evidence of good practice
to share more widely. The attachment describes in outline new
primary and secondary inspection models. We shall be working further
with an expert working group, which includes many experienced
headteachers, on the model for special schools and PRUs.
Our discussions have also shown widespread support
for developing more consistent and rigorous school improvement
processes in all schoolsbringing together self-evaluation,
resource and development planning, staff development and performance
management (both of individual staff and of the school as a whole).
This was not a consultation issue but we signalled in the consultation
paper our intention to increase our support for effective school
management, working jointly with NCSL and DfES. This will be the
main focus of a further working group, which involves headteachers
and local authority advisers.
I am sure that the decisions we have taken offer
a stable foundation for the next round of school inspections,
and the flexibility to address future changes. Our system of independent
and rigorous school inspection has been a powerful force for higher
standards. I hope you will continue to work with my successor
to develop and maintain an inspection system which can continue
to play its vital role in the years to come.
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools
24 January 2002
INSPECTION: A SUMMARY
Issue 1: A school-selected issue
Issue 2: Choice of inspection model
Issue 3: A form of short inspection for all primary
For primary and nursery schools, we shall look
at the core and a small sample of foundation subjects in the large
majority of schools, but extend coverage to most if not all subjects
in less effective schools. All schools will also have the option
to choose one subject or aspect.
For secondary schools, we shall look at the
core subjects and a small sample of others in the most effective
schools, and most if not all subjects in others. All schools will
also have the option to choose one subject or aspect.
For nursery, primary and secondary schools,
we shall ensure that the most effective schools normally have
an inspection only once every six years, while others are inspected
more frequently. The interval between inspections will be determined
in the light of the evidence of the previous inspection, as well
as pupil performance figures. Schools emerging from special measures
will be inspected, as now, two years later, as will those found
no longer to have serious weaknesses.
Issue 4: Special schools and Pupil Referral Units
We shall develop with our working group proposals
for a flexible model to meet the specific inspection needs of
special schools and PRUs.
Issue 5: Reporting on a consistent basis to parents
We shall ensure that concise and readable summary
reports are provided after each inspection, designed to meet the
needs of parents and pupils.
Issue 6: Post-inspection meeting between parents
and the headteacher and governing body
We shall continue to encourage schools to involve
parents regularly on important issues, including holding meetings
to follow up the outcomes of inspection. We shall also explore
the most effective ways of seeking parents' views before and during
Issue 7: More serving teachers and headteachers
on inspection teams
We shall develop and publish a strategy for
increasing the number of inspection teams involving serving school
Issue 8: Improving feedback to individual teachers
We have already stopped providing profiles of
teaching grades for individual teachers, and shall take further
steps to improve feedback including allowing more time for it
under the new inspection arrangements.
Issue 9: Making better use of parents', governors'
and headteachers' views
We shall establish and publish clear procedures
for dealing with requests for inspection from parents, governors
Issue 10: Using questionnaires to survey pupils'
We shall explore the most effective ways of
securing pupils' views before and during inspections, and trial
new approaches with both primary and secondary age pupils in all
types of school.
Issue 11: Asking schools to invite the pre-inspection
views of their partners
We shall encourage schools as part of the new
arrangements from September 2003 to assemble views from their
partners to feed into inspection, and also ensure that partners
know how to contact inspectors directly if they wish to do so.
We shall work with schools and inspectors to try out ways of doing
this in advance of 2003, to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.
Issue 12: Refreshing the pool of lay inspectors
We are determined to widen the pool of lay inspectors
and make it more representative. We shall take steps to recruit
and train new lay inspectors, and consider in the light of experience
what further steps may be needed to ensure their use on inspection
Issue 13: Joint work with DfES to reduce bureaucracy
We shall continue to work actively with DfES.
We recognise the concerns of schools and share their desire to
keep the demands of inspection and associated paperwork to a minimum,
while maintaining an effective and rigorous inspection system.
Issue 14: Extending survey and pilot inspections
to count as statutory inspections
We shall allow pilot and other inspections to
count as statutory inspections where it makes sense to do so.
Issue 15: Linked inspection of groups of schools
We recognise that this is a complex area. We
shall take some obvious early steps to inspect closely-linked
schools at the same time, and test and evaluate possible further
options for joint inspection.
Issue 16: A common start date for new arrangements
We are planning to introduce new arrangements
for all types of school in September 2003.