News | Published June 15 2019

Ofsted call for routine checks on “outstanding” schools

Ofsted have called for routine checks on “outstanding” schools to be resumed after 80 per cent of those it re-inspected were downgraded. 

These schools were re-inspected because concerns were raised about falling standards.

Of the 305 schools inspected, 256 were downgraded. 

166 were downgraded to “good”, 76 were moved to “require improvement” and 14 were judged “inadequate.” The number of schools retaining their status halved.

The decision to stop routine inspections of “outstanding” schools was made by Michael Gove during his time as Education Secretary. 

The decision was made to focus attention on the worst performing schools but received criticism as it meant many schools would not be inspected.

Ofsted raised concerns about this decision last year, highlighting that certain schools had not been inspected for over a decade. Because of this gap between inspections, ratings were likely to be inaccurate.

Last year, the National Audit Office published a report which found that 296 “outstanding” schools had not been inspected for over 10 years.

To change this, Ofsted have called for routine inspections to be re-instated with each primary school being inspected every five years and every seven years for secondary schools.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “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.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ofsted inspects outstanding schools where specific concerns have been raised so while 70 per cent of those schools re-inspected are good or outstanding, it is only to be expected that in some cases these schools will have declined, and this shows that its risk assessment approach is working.

“We have also recently asked Ofsted to increase its inspection of outstanding schools and to review its trigger for the inspection of these schools.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
June 15 2019

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