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Michael Gove in U-turn over unannounced Ofsted inspections

Michael Gove in U-turn over unannounced Ofsted inspections


Michael Gove

Education secretary Michael Gove angered teaching unions with proposals to allow no-notice Ofsted inspections. Photograph: David Jones/PA

The education secretary Michael Gove has signalled a U-turn over plans for schools to face unannounced inspections following protests from headteachers.

In an apparent concession to school leaders, Gove suggested thatOfsted’s proposals for no-notice visits could be dropped.

Addressing the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, the minister acknowledged there was a perception that Ofsted has become “an arm of the Spanish Inquisition”, storming in to deal with problems.

He told delegates there was a particular concern that “people fear it [no-notice inspection] sends a message that we don’t trust the profession, that Ofsted has become an arm of the Spanish Inquisition or Sean Connery’s Untouchables, that they have to be ready to storm in without any notice in order to deal with something that has gone drastically wrong. That was never the intention.”

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw announced proposals for no-notice inspections in January, saying it was vital that the public has “absolute confidence” in the integrity of inspections.

But Gove said the government’s plans would take into account that “teachers and heads deserve to have the chance to know when an Ofsted inspection is coming and to be there in order to present the best face of the school”.

He added that the chief inspector would soon outline how notice of inspections is given to schools.

The proposals for no-notice inspections, which are currently under consultation, were announced following concerns that some schools were attempting to trick Ofsted by using tactics such as sending weak teachers and unruly pupils home during inspections.

But teaching unions raised concerns about the proposals, saying headteachers should be given notice to ensure they can be at their school when inspectors arrive.

Under the current system, schools get 48 hours notice before an inspection.


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