All schools set for Ofsted inspections as exemption ends

2020-01-20

School inspectors will check every ‘outstanding’ school within five years, as education secretary, Gavin Williamson has vowed to end inspection exemptions.


His latest promise follows a pledge from September 2019 when he said the exemption rules introduced by Michael Gove in 2019 would cease.


The move comes after Ofsted warned that schools rated ‘outstanding’ could be masking poor performance as they were protected from any scrutiny.


Mr Williamson has pledged that universal inspections will be carried out in English schools from September 2020, provided the move passes a consultation and Parliamentary vote.


It would mean an estimated 3,700 schools and colleges would be due an inspection within five years, echoing the timeline that is applied for inspections to ‘good’ schools.


Schools Week has suggested that additional funding could be required to facilitate the additional inspections, claiming that Ofsted believes it may cost between £5 million and £10 million.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised an extra £10 million to Ofsted during his election campaign, although it is thought that funding was for a trial of no-notice inspections and to lengthen inspections generally.


The Department for Education meanwhile has pointed to the upcoming spending review, adding that finance plans will be decided at that stage.


Mr Williamson said the move will help parents to make informed choices regarding their child’s education.


“Making sure that all schools are regularly inspected means they will benefit from the expert insight Ofsted provides when making these decisions,” he explained.


The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has welcomed the move, with general secretary Nick Brook saying the policy must be “applied fairly to all currently exempt schools”.


Under the proposals, schools that were previously exempt that were inspected after September 2015 will be given short inspections, while those last inspected before that date will be given full inspections.


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