Schools usually receive half a day’s notice before an inspection, however over a two-week period Ofsted will conduct no-notice visits at over 40 schools in England. Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw says there should be a move towards more routine no-notice visits as part of wider education reforms. Around 40 schools up and down the country have been selected for the two-day unannounced inspections during a two-week window in September, under powers already available to the inspectorate.
NUT oppose the changes
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) have opposed the suggestion of routine no-notice inspections, with general secretary, Christine Blower, arguing that “for accountability to be meaningful, there needs to be proper professional and respectful dialogue.”
“Trojan Horse” schools re-inspected
However, following the alleged “Trojan horse” conspiracy in Birmingham with claims that some schools were being taken over by hard-line Muslim groups, there were urgent calls for more no-notice inspections. In this way schools do not have an advance warning to allow time to conceal any unacceptable behaviour. Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw agreed to examine the feasibility of moving to a system of inspecting all schools without notice, rather than the half-day notice that the majority of schools currently receive.
Consultations later this year
“I’m giving thought to whether Ofsted should move to more routine no-notice inspections as part of our wider education inspection reforms, which we will be consulting on later this year”.
In the meantime he has instructed inspectors to use their knowledge and contacts to identify where there may be potential concerns so they can “respond swiftly and report publicly on what we find”.
This includes concerns over rapidly declining standards in behaviour, leadership and governance and the breadth and balance of the curriculum.
Wilshaw rightly highlights how parents rely on Ofsted carrying out thorough inspections to ensure their children are kept safe and receive a good education: “Parents expect Ofsted inspections to get to the heart of any problems that may exist in a school…That’s why we’ve expanded the criteria for conducting unannounced inspections for the coming year”.