Press release

High expectation, no excuses

Delivering his first speech since becoming Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw launched detailed proposals for changes to inspection.

ofsted logo

Speaking at the London Leadership Strategy ‘Good to great’ conference, he set out his ambition that all children will receive a good or better education and the steps Ofsted proposes to drive faster change.

Sir Michael reiterated plans to replace the satisfactory judgement with ‘requires improvement’ and for all school inspections to be undertaken without notice. He also announced a raising of expectations for outstanding schools and a tighter focus on the way in which headteachers are driving the quality of teaching in their schools.

In his address Sir Michael said:

Quite simply, I believe we need radical improvements to the education system in this country. My view is that we have tolerated mediocrity for far too long – it has settled into the system.

We have made progress. But, the quality of educational provision isn’t improving fast enough and the gap in outcomes between the richest and the poorest isn’t closing. Without a radical change now, we will see more social and economic division in this country.

In order to help deliver a ‘no excuses’ culture, Sir Michael wants Ofsted to support school leaders in driving up the quality of teaching. In his speech, Sir Michael set out principles for outstanding leadership:

  • you and your senior team have to show your passion and commitment for teaching in everything you say and do
  • you need to be committed to good quality professional development
  • you monitor the quality of teaching effectively and ensure performance management is robust in rewarding those who teach well, and doing something about those who consistently underperform

Commenting on the importance of strong leadership, Sir Michael adds:

Unless we have headteachers who take on the difficult challenges of schools performance and adopt a no excuses culture, we are never going to make the improvements we need.

Ofsted is proposing that information about performance management in a school should be gathered as part of the inspection process so that the relationship between reward and quality of teaching in a school can be fully understood.

Sir Michael also signalled a raising of expectations for good and outstanding schools. He said:

We need clear and demanding criteria for a school to be judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. A good school should have at least good teaching, and an outstanding school should have outstanding teaching. Good and outstanding leadership of teaching and learning drives improvement and knows that the culture of the school and the progress of pupils depend on it.

This raising of expectations for outstanding schools will lead to Ofsted reviewing the status of some outstanding schools. This will not mean a return to routine inspection but the selection of more schools for inspection on the basis of risk assessment, including from information gained through Parent View, Ofsted’s online questionnaire for parents to give their views of their child’s school.

Headteachers have welcomed the new focus proposed by Sir Michael.

Robin Bosher, Executive Head, Fairlawn Primary in Honor Oak London says:

A great deal of progress has been made in our schools over recent years but it is vital that heads and teachers continue to strive for continuous improvement – so that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, can benefit from the best possible education. The changes proposed in Ofsted inspection will help drive this and I hope that all those with an interest will contribute to the consultation.

Rachel Macfarlane, Headteacher of Issac Newton Academy Director of the London Leadership Strategy’s Good to Great and Going for Great programmes adds:

Almost all Headteachers share the belief that it’s their moral purpose to do all they can to close the gap in educational outcomes between the richest and the poorest. That’s why those school leaders on the Good To Great and Going For Great programmes constantly strive to ensure that their schools do better for their pupils.

Ofsted needs to be an agent for improvement in the education system and the London Leadership Strategy shares Sir Michael Wilshaw’s expectation that all outstanding schools will “step up to the plate to support less successful schools.

Reflecting specifically on proposals to introduce changes to the amount of notice schools are given, Jo Morgan, Headteacher, Great Sankey High School adds:

Headteachers should not be afraid of unannounced inspections, as long as they are well orchestrated by Ofsted. Schools should not be defined by the amount of paperwork collated in 48 hours but by strong, dynamic leadership, excellent learning and teaching and the culture and ethos which is ‘typically’ present. Jumping through hoops doesn’t raise standards- ensuring students’ everyday diet is of the highest quality does: that’s what makes the difference. That’s what Ofsted should see. It’s what you do- not what you say you’ve done, or what you’re going to do, that makes the difference to achievement.

The consultation, which also covers changes to Further Education (FE) and skills and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) inspection, sets out seven proposals in total for changes to the way schools are inspected.

From September 2012, it is proposed that:

  • schools cannot be judged ‘outstanding’ unless their teaching is ‘outstanding’
  • schools will only be deemed to be providing an acceptable standard of education where they are judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’
  • a single judgement of ‘requires improvement’ will replace the current ‘satisfactory’ judgement and ‘notice to improve’ category
  • schools judged as ‘requires improvement’ will be subject to a full re-inspection earlier than is currently the case
  • a school can only be judged as ‘requires improvement’ on two consecutive inspections before it is deemed to require ‘special measures’
  • inspections will be undertaken without notice being provided to the school
  • inspectors should undertake an analysis of an anonymised summary, provided by the school, of the outcomes of the most recent performance management of all teachers within the school, as part of the evidence for a judgement on Leadership and Management

The consultations for FE and ITE cover very similar areas.

Notes to editors

  1. Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech is archived online.

  2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

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Published 9 February 2012