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Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has confirmed the biggest changes to education inspections since the inception of Ofsted more than two decades ago.

From September, Ofsted will inspect good schools and further education and skills providers once every three years under a new short inspection model. Inspectors will start from a premise that the school or provider is still good and focus on ensuring that those standards are being maintained. They will check that leaders have identified key areas of concern and that they have the capacity to address them.

These short inspections will typically last one day and be led by one or two of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), with bigger teams for further education colleges. Where HMI feel more evidence is necessary to confirm the judgement, or to establish whether the school or provider may have improved or declined, the visit will be converted to a full inspection and continue, most commonly, for an additional day.

“Leaders will have nothing to fear from accurately identifying at the outset any weaknesses in their provision – as well as the strengths – based on their own evaluation”, Sir Michael said. “HMI will be looking to see that the leadership has a clear understanding of the key areas for development – and a credible and effective plan for addressing these.”

Sir Michael has also announced plans to recognise “exceptional leaders”. From September, when inspectors identify an early years leader, headteacher or college principal who has played a key role in turning around other institutions, Ofsted will send a letter to them acknowledging their leadership as exceptional. A copy of this letter will go to the Secretary of State and Ofsted’s Annual Report will also feature those leaders who have been recognised in this way.

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