‘Outstanding’ schools a ‘blind spot’ in the education system, says Ofsted chief

The BBC has reported that Ofsted’s chief inspector believes the exemption of ‘outstanding’ schools from routine inspections needs to change

According to Ofsted’s chief inspector, top-rated schools in the UK are a “blind spot” in the education system.

Amanda Spielman says this needs to change, as a move made seven years ago to exempt ‘outstanding’ schools from routine inspections meant that some haven’t been checked in a decade or more.

The issue here is that changes in school health and safety – and quality – could have been missed.

Spielman said: “85% of teachers agree that exemption should not be indefinite.

“More importantly, it leaves us with real blind spots as to the quality of education and safeguarding in these schools.”

While the government has stated that these schools are held to account in other ways, Spielman has expressed concern that the establishments in question lack oversight.

She added: “The outstanding grade should be a symbol that a school is a beacon of excellence.

“If we are to maintain its reputation, the exemption from inspection for outstanding schools must be removed and Ofsted fully resourced to inspect those schools.”

Ofsted’s director of corporate strategy, Luke Tryl, had previously suggested that some outstanding schools may no longer deserve their title.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said that yearly performance data provided parents with real transparency, and that Ofsted was still required to risk assess outstanding schools and inspect if necessary in response to parental concerns.

The exemption of outstanding schools was justified by the DfE on the grounds that resources should be focused on struggling schools.

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