Chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman has called for a change in school inspections, claiming that schools in England rated ‘outstanding’ are the ‘blind spot’ of the education system, BBC news reports.
In 2011 top-rated schools became exempt from routine inspections, which means that some establishments haven’t been assessed for more than a decade.
The move proved unpopular with teachers and parents alike, as it meant that changes in school quality or safety may go unnoticed. The government, however, claimed there were other ways the top schools were held to account.
Ms Spielman claimed that 85% of teachers believe the exemption should not be indefinite. She said the schools lacked oversight and that problems like narrowing of the curriculum, gaming the system and insufficient safeguarding practices might be being overlooked.
“The outstanding grade should be a symbol that a school is a beacon of excellence,” said Ms Spielman. “If we are to maintain its reputation, the exemption from inspection for outstanding schools must be removed and Ofsted fully resourced to inspect those schools.”
Luke Tryl, director of corporate strategy at Ofsted, has previously said that it’s possible a number of ‘outstanding’ schools no longer merit the rating, upon which the majority of parents base their applications.
A DfE spokesperson commented that annual performance data offered parents total transparency with regard to school quality, while Ofsted was still required to risk-assess schools and take action if parents expressed any concerns.
The DfE decided to exempt top-rated schools from re-inspection on the basis that resources should instead be allocated to schools thought to be struggling. Ms Spielman pointed out that there is no concrete evidence linking the squeeze in school funding to a drop in school standards.
Do you think changes need to be introduced so that ‘outstanding’ schools are regularly inspected?