Mixed reaction over changes to school inspections

Coun Robert Oliver
Coun Robert Oliver
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A PLANNED shake-up of Ofsted inspections for good schools has been met with a mixed reaction in Sunderland.

The boss of the education watchdog, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has set out plans to overhaul the inspections system.

Around 60 per cent of schools are rated as good by the regulator, and Sir Michael said there was “little point” in sending in teams of inspectors every five years just to confirm that status.

Instead he proposed a system where these schools would be subject to shorter, more frequent assessment, with full inspections reserved for schools which are failing or on the cusp of being rated outstanding.

Coun Robert Oliver, Tory spokesman for education in Sunderland, said: “The changes to Ofsted inspections are welcome as resources should be targeted at monitoring and advising schools in most need of improvement and conducting only light touch inspections of schools which are already good.

“Headteachers and governors should be able to provide sufficient data between inspections to keep a school on track, but it is important that schools close to the outstanding category are given every chance to achieve it.”

However, Sarah Lake, branch secretary of the Sunderland NUT, said school staff would be cautious about the proposal.

She said: “At the moment I believe that Sunderland teachers will be playing a wait and see game around the announced changes to Ofsted inspections.

“In education we are seeing almost constant change in all areas. Although teachers and heads will hope that the announcement means more time to teach and less time spent preparing for inspections, they will also want proof.”

Sir Michael said: “I can’t say to you that inspection is going to be soft, that it’s not going to be stressful, it always is stressful.”

A recent poll, conducted by ASCL, Association of School and College Leaders, of almost 900 secondary school leaders found that 65 per cent say they do not have confidence in Ofsted overall to make accurate and reliable judgements about the quality of schools and colleges.