What next for school inspection? A summary of HMCI’s speech to the Association of School and College Leaders. 21 March 2014


Ofsted-logo-400 highThe past 18 months in particular have seen a flurry of activity in Ofsted with several changes to the school inspection Framework and many versions of the subsidiary guidance for inspectors.

A consultation was launched on 18 March to bring in separate judgements, from September of this year, for the Early Years Foundation Stage and the sixth form.

On 21 March, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, made a speech to the Association of School and College Leaders, in which he set out the likely direction of travel for school inspections in future.

He said that any future changes will be based on three principles:

  • A root and branch review of outsourced inspections;
  • More proportionate and risk-based inspection;
  • The great majority of inspections to be led by HMI.

The number of HMi will be increased with more serving headteachers working in a full or part-time capacity.

HMCI stated his belief that all publicly funded education should be accountable to one inspectorate, this includes free schools and academies.


HMCI was at pains to stress that inspections are about “the quality of teaching not the quality of teachers” and that Ofsted does not have a preferred teaching style. He also said that”good teaching can only go on if behaviour is good”; this is why there is more focus on attitudes to learning and why Ofsted is carrying out a series of unannounced behaviour inspections in schools where behaviour is judged to require improvement.

The future of inspection

  • For good schools (the majority) more frequent, light-touch visits from an HMI every two to three years, resulting in a letter to parents.
  • Similar arrangements for outstanding schools when concerns are raised.
  • A full review of the Section 5 inspection framework.
  • More engagement and involvement from the profession in the challenge of inspection.

The final comment in HMCI’s speech is worth repeating, “But in the final analysis we are all the public’s servants. And in their service we all ultimately stand accountable.”

Elspeth Davis

23 March 2014


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Summary of guidance on unannounced behaviour inspections published by Ofsted