Ofsted inspections for schools rated ‘outstanding’ to be reintroduced

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Schools rated as outstanding by Ofsted will no longer be exempt from inspections.

The change is part of plans aimed at helping struggling schools and tackling under-performance, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Schools graded outstanding had been exempt from routine re-inspection and as of May 2018 there were almost 300 which had not been assessed for more than a decade.

The DfE said reintroducing regular Ofsted inspections to the top-rated schools will ensure parents have up-to-date information and can be confident that schools rated outstanding really are providing the highest standards.

More funding will also be made available to help top performing academies to expand to support other schools and help them deliver the best possible education.

A new specialist academy trust will be set up specifically for the purpose of taking on and turning round the most challenging schools struggling with long-term under-performance.

The trust will be piloted in the north of England and offer support from school leaders with a proven track record in improving education.

For schools that have consistently been rated “requires improvement” by Ofsted, there will be a new programme giving hundreds of them more help from experienced school leaders and evidence-based support programmes.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Every parent wants to know their child is getting a great education and I will leave no stone unturned in my drive to deliver that.

“Education standards in this country have been transformed since 2010, and I am determined to make sure those schools that are leading the way are sharing their expertise and lifting up others so every child, no matter where they are from, has the best possible start in life.

“This Government has delivered on its promise to deliver a huge cash boost for the education system and now we will continue our relentless focus on standards by backing teachers, school leaders and the sector as a whole to do what they do best and deliver the best for our children.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT – which represents leaders in the majority of schools in England, said: “We welcome the commitment to remove the outstanding exemption from inspection.

“It cannot be right that around 300 schools have not been inspected for over 10 years. Many of these schools are completely different places now to when they were inspected, with changed cohorts of pupils and different staff teaching a dramatically different curriculum. This is clearly not in the interests of parents, pupils or schools.

“In some places, the exemption has acted as a brake on educational improvement – we have heard from headteachers who have taken over previously outstanding schools and have faced considerable resistance to change from all quarters, for fear of disrupting the apparent winning formula; it has meant that outstanding schools have not had that official, external validation of continued excellence, which has made it harder for parents to compare relative strengths when choosing a school for their child.

“However, NAHT remains concerned that Ofsted are unable to make reliable judgements on how good a good school actually is. In the past, ‘outstanding’ judgments have been largely data driven.

“This resulted in the situation that we have now, where an outstanding judgement can be as much a reflection of the wealth of the community served as the quality of education provided by the school.

“It is hard to see how inspectors will be able to make better, more trusted and consistent judgements of excellence in the system.”

The announcement comes after billions of pounds were pledged to England’s schools after years of lobbying by heads and teachers for more money.

The Government announced money will be invested in primary and secondary schools over the next three years.

Downing Street said the investment delivers on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase school funding by £4.6 billion above inflation.

The overall schools budget is due to rise to £52.2 billion in 2022/23, the Government said.

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