Education & Family

Top heads to be sent letter of recognition

Sir Michael Wilshaw Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Michael said a very different inspection system lay ahead

Exceptional school leaders in England are to be recognised with a personal letter from Ofsted's chief inspector as part of new inspection arrangements.

Heads and principals who have played a key role in turning around a school or college will get the letters, with a copy going to the education secretary.

Sir Michael Wilshaw set out the plan as he confirmed a switch to more frequent, but shorter Ofsted inspections.

Heads said the changes could make inspections fairer and more effective.

The plans are designed to encourage school leaders who put their careers on the line to tackle troubled schools.

'Very different'

In a speech in London, Sir Michael said: "Those leaders who are taking risks, putting themselves out and disseminating good practice beyond their own institution need to be celebrated as exceptional reformers."

On the move to shorten inspections, Sir Michael said it would "reduce the burden of inspection without losing the rigour which parents and the public rightly expect of Ofsted".

The new inspections will last a single day, rather than two days as at present, and be led by two senior inspectors or HMIs.

"Make no mistake, this a very different inspection model to what has gone before," Sir Michael said.

"The starting assumption of HMIs will be that the school or college is good. This should engender an atmosphere in which honest, challenging, professional dialogue can take place."

The changes are due to come into force in September along with changes to the way Ofsted inspectors are hired and managed.

More Ofsted inspectors will be drawn from staff in good and outstanding schools and colleges, for example.

'Reassured'

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "While we welcomed Ofsted's plan to carry out short inspections of 'good' schools rather than full inspections, we felt that schools likely to be downgraded, or upgraded, should immediately have the required full inspection rather than being kept in limbo. We are reassured that our advice has been acted upon.

"We are also pleased that the emphasis in Ofsted's revised school inspection handbook will be on assessing schools on the outcomes they achieve for students, particularly in terms of the progress made at school.

"We believe it is right that the inspection system should focus on outcomes, rather than telling schools how to teach. This is a step in the right direction."

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