HARTLEPOOL headteachers have welcomed a major overhaul of the way schools are inspected.
Under new plans the majority of primary and secondary schools will get short visits from one inspector every two to three years instead of full routine inspections, Ofsted chairman Sir Michael Wilshaw has revealed.
Schools rated as “good” will only get a “light-touch” visit while full inspections will only be triggered if there are indications that standards at a school have dropped or risen dramatically.
The proposals come amid growing concerns from headteachers about the current state of the inspection system and the quality of inspectors.
And the town’s heads say the system had to be reviewed.
Michael Lee, headteacher at English Martyrs RC School and Sixth Form College, said: “I welcome the news that inspections are likely to be shorter and less intensive for schools that are performing well.
“Ofsted inspections are very expensive and I think this is a better way of using public money.”
Manor College of Technology’s headteacher, Anne Malcolm, was also pleased with the changes, saying: “I think it’s a move away from the current climate of fear and it seems there will be a lot more support for schools.”
The changes to the system will be developed over the next 18 months.
Under the current system, a number of private firms employ inspectors who conduct inspections for Ofsted.
But concerns have been raised about this process, and Sir Michael said that school inspection is too important for Ofsted to just oversee these arrangements.
Andrew Jordon, headteacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in the town, welcomed a change to the system, but said it’s vital for the inspectors to be consistent in their analysis of schools.
Mr Jordon said: “The big thing for me is a need for consistency.
“A headteacher needs to know they are being judged in the way as the school down the road, and it’s really very important that the people who come in have the trust of the heads.”
Neil Nottingham, headteacher at Stranton Primary School, added:“The system definitely needed reviewing, times have changed.
“But it’s like anything, you need to have the right quality of people doing the job.
“Headteachers need to have confidence in the inspection system.”
Mark Atkinson, Throston Primary School’s head, added: “Of course, it all depends on the quality of the inspector. You want to make sure the report reflects your school.
“I do feel the current system needed changing and I think the proposals make a lot of sense.”
Neil McAvoy, deputy headteacher at Clavering Primary School, added: “An inspection system is certainly necessary. But for successful schools a critical friend who makes suggestions to aid further improvement would probably be more beneficial than a confrontational team of inspectors.
“Challenging yet constructive shorter inspections for successful schools would be welcome while allowing Ofsted to focus in greater detail on schools that are under performing.
“One concern, however, is that if Ofsted is to more frequently inspect ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ schools, surely this will have an impact on the availability of skilled inspectors to focus on more vulnerable schools.”