Cambridge Education Guide Spring:Summer 2020 Newsletter



by nth-degree data crunching. By the end of the 1990s, every state school had been inspected using the same criteria, with the inspection findings made available in parent-friendly, jargon-free reports that were available to everyone. While the detail has changed, the basic format has stayed the same. Every new school is inspected in its first three years. For existing schools, inspection intervals are down to how they’re doing. Any school rated ‘outstanding’, the top grade, escapes routine inspections altogether while ‘good’ schools are normally re-inspected every four years. Drop below this, however, and things become an awful lot stricter. Schools that require improvement will be inspected again within 30 months. Hit ‘inadequate’ – the lowest grade – and drastic measures are taken, with schools forced to become sponsored academies, a move that’s designed to bring in extra support so they can start to improve. INSPECTION TIMINGS Inevitably, the school inspection system comes in for plenty of criticism, including the additional stress it causes already overworked teachers and school leaders. Most recently, Ofsted has been criticised for putting too much emphasis on exam results, with the result that schools can end up cutting down music, drama or art and instead ‘teaching to the test’ in order to achieve better inspection grades. Ofsted has responded by stressing that in the future, schools will also be evaluated not just on their results but the breadth of the curriculum and what they term ‘real learning’. Inspectors will be looking not just at the quality of the education and the way a school is led and managed but other areas that matter to parents – including pupils’ behaviour and resilience. At good and outstanding schools, parents can have to wait several years for a new inspection report. Fortunately for anyone who wants a snapshot of how their local


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