Despite experiencing a 38% budget cut between 2010 and 2020, Tes has reported that Ofsted are forecasting a £1.2 million underspend in 2017-18.
It was revealed that only 67% of inspections maintained schools were executed over the last academic year, putting Ofsted behind on its schedule. A teacher in Lincolnshire commented: “We turn up to work each day not knowing if we are going to get the call. All the waiting is making the workplace tense and not a fun environment to ply our trade. We are at the point now that we can’t wait for Ofsted, despite the pressures, because a weight may be lifted and we can enjoy teaching again.”
However, new regulations in December may mean that such inspections are not concluded when Ofsted staff walk out the door after they have concluded their findings in short inspections. Schools rated as ‘good’ who have the possibility of going up or dropping down a grading will now have to wait up to two years to be reassessed again with a full inspection.
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, told Tes: “No matter how the interim verdict is communicated, parents will be uncertain that their children’s school is still good. The uncertainty about the quality of education provided could become the single biggest barrier to improvement that the school in question will face.”
However, supporters of the new framework argue that the two year period allows schools time to ensure they have the capabilities to reach ‘outstanding’ or prevent that possibility of dropping down a grading.
A spokesperson for Tes explained that such a change had caused ‘operational challenges’ to Ofsted but they are now in a position to carry out an increased number of inspections to support the new guidelines, underpinned by the underspend in their budget.
She added: “We recently consulted on a new approach to inspecting ‘good’ schools, prior to this the conversion process had resulted in operational challenges. The report to the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee was reconfirming our position to continue to invest in the delivery of inspections volumes and our new strategy.”