Update on the Acceleration of Ofsted Inspections
Independent inspection of schools and further education (FE) providers by Ofsted is a central part of the Government’s strategies for accountability and improvement, and provides a key source of information for parents.
Ofsted’s routine inspection programme was suspended in March 2020, in response to the pandemic, and Ofsted moved temporarily to conducting non-graded visits and monitoring inspections targeted at weaker institutions. The Government was able to lift the suspension in April this year, and since September, Ofsted has resumed its routine programme of inspections. The programme includes inspections of outstanding schools and colleges that were previously exempt from routine inspection, following the Government’s removal of the exemption in November 2020. HM Chief Inspector has made adjustments to the inspection approach to reflect the ongoing challenge presented by the pandemic, ensuring that inspections this term are both robust and fair.
When inspections resumed, Ofsted committed to conducting at least one inspection of all schools by summer 2026. HM Chief Inspector has today announced that as a result of the Spending Review, Ofsted is now in a position to accelerate that programme so that, beginning with last term’s inspections, all schools and FE providers will be inspected at least once by summer 2025.
This is an important development, providing a quicker assessment of recovery in schools and colleges across the country. The acceleration will mean parents and learners receive up-to-date assurance about the quality of education being provided, and schools and providers receive timely information to inform their plans for improvement as they strive to support their pupils and students to recover.
In addition, in the FE sector, all colleges, sixth form colleges, and special designated institutes will receive a full inspection between September 2022 and summer 2025. These inspections will be enhanced to provide for inspection of local skills needs in line with the new duty on colleges set out in the Skills Bill, providing us with a baseline assessment of how all settings are meeting local skills needs. As detailed in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, ensuring FE settings are closing local skills gaps is vital in ensuring that young people have the skills they need to progress in secure jobs. Ofsted will be piloting its methodology for these enhanced inspections, and will be seeking input from the sector to ensure they get this right.
The total extra funding for education inspections over the next 3 financial years, over and above Ofsted’s current spend is £23.85m.