News | Published January 11 2020

Exemption from inspection removed for "outstanding" schools

In September 2019, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that schools rated “outstanding” by Ofsted would lose their exemption from routine inspections.

Since 2012, when Michael Gove was serving as education secretary, “outstanding” schools have not been routinely inspected by Ofsted in order to minimise interference and to ensure focus was given to the worst performing schools.

All schools which had been ranked as “outstanding” will be inspected in the next five years, according to the Department for Education’s proposal.

Announcing this new measure, Williamson said: “Every parent wants to know their child is getting a great education and I will leave no stone unturned in my drive to deliver that.

“Education standards in this country have been transformed since 2010, and I am determined to make sure those schools that are leading the way are sharing their expertise and lifting up others so every child, no matter where they are from has the best possible start in life.”

The move followed calls by Ofsted, in June, to resume inspections after 80 per cent of the “outstanding” schools it had inspected at that stage were subsequently downgraded.

Of the 305 schools they had inspected by June, 256 had their rating revised to a lower status. Of these, 166 schools had their rating changed to “good”, 76 were rated “requires improvement” and 14 were judged “inadequate.”

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, supported this call for further inspections by saying: “The fact that outstanding schools are largely exempt from inspection leaves us with real gaps in our knowledge about the quality of education and safeguarding in these schools.

“We believe most schools judged outstanding are still doing outstanding work.

“But for the outstanding grade to be properly meaningful and a genuine beacon of excellence, the exemption should be lifted and Ofsted resourced to routinely inspect these schools.”

Her argument was supported by a BBC investigation in October which revealed that 1,010 “outstanding” schools had not been inspected by Ofsted in a decade.

The BBC also studied the latest figures concerning the downgrading of previously “outstanding” schools.

By October 2019, 1,203 “outstanding” schools had been downgraded to “good”, 159 to “requires improvement” and 56 were subsequently rated as “inadequate.”

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
January 11 2020

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