The UK school inspection body Ofsted is set to launch “no notice” inspections on the more than 1,000 independent schools under its direct control after warning that teaching in these schools were “seldom inspiring”.
From September, Ofsted will combine teaching standards and the quality of the curriculum reports with a greater focus on the individual progress made by each student during their time at the school, writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.
The overhaul comes after the watchdog concluded that teaching in many small independent schools was rarely better than “competent” in its 2011 annual report. Lessons were determined unsatisfactory in over a third of fee-paying schools, said the report.
Jean Humphrys, Ofsted’s director of education and care, said:
“The quality of teaching is the key driver of school improvement.
“One of the main findings from Ofsted inspection in this sector is that the quality of teaching in non-association independent schools tends to be competent but seldom inspiring.
“It is vital that our inspection is incisive and rigorous, and that judgments are fair, clear and helpful to a school’s further development. With these new arrangements we will focus more sharply on what makes teaching truly effective.”
Ofsted only inspects just over 1,000 independent schools out of the 2,400 that currently operate in England. Only schools that are not members of the Independent Schools Council are under its remit.
In the new inspections, Ofsted would look to measure schools against five key benchmarks: overall effectiveness, pupils’ achievement and behavior, the quality of education, management and leadership and standards of child welfare and health and safety.
“Schools must demonstrate how the curriculum engages the pupils and helps all of them to achieve their best.”
The new system will also call for a focus on preparing children for life in multicultural Britain. A significant effort, as many independent schools “serve distinctive faith communities”, Ofsted said.
This comes after repeated concerns raised over the curriculum in some Islamic schools, writes Paton.
A BBC Panorama documentary in 2010 claimed to have unearthed evidence of textbooks being used in a network of 40 private Muslim schools that make reference to chopping off thieves’ hands and other controversial Islamic practices.