Impact of Section 5 Inspections: Maintained Schools in England

Peter Rudd, Pauline Wade, Tami McCrone, Sarah Blenkinsop

21 July 2006

Available to download from Ofsted website

A new system of school inspections was introduced in September 2005 as laid out in Section 5 (s5) of the Education Act 2005. In early 2006 Ofsted commissioned NFER to conduct the first strand of an independent, detailed evaluation of how the inspection process and outcomes impact on school effectiveness. This pilot work involved a survey of 134 schools and case-study visits to 36 schools. Strand 2 of this research programme will commence in September 2006.

Key Findings

  • The main benefit of the inspection was that it was perceived primarily to confirm or validate areas that the school previously identified, rather than as having identified improvement areas. Although not recognized as a major contributor to school improvement in its own right, inspection, in its role as assessor of self-evaluation, was seen as an integral element of the school improvement cycle.
  • The majority (89 per cent) of survey respondents were 'very' or 'quite' satisfied with the inspection and nearly two-thirds either 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that the new process was less stressful than the previous system. They perceived the inspection process to be sound and viewed the Self-Evaluation Form (SEF), oral feedback stage and the written report positively.
  • Some schools found the written report and its recommendations to be too generalised and a small minority experienced disagreement with the findings. The main contention centred on the use (or lack of use) of data.
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