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Schools: Inspections

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 9 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the average (a) duration and (b) cost of an Ofsted inspection of a (i) primary and (ii) secondary school was in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (154782)

This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the hon. Member and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Library.

Letter from Christine Gilbert, dated 17 September 2007:

Your recent parliamentary question has been passed to me, as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, for a response.

The cost of an inspection is derived from the published inspection tariff, which is closely related to the size of the school. Inspector days are allocated to a school according to the following formula:

Number of pupils on roll

Inspector days in school



















No inspection involves inspectors being in a school for more than two days. Most inspections involve two days in school, except for very small schools. However the total cost of each inspection includes two extra days for the lead inspector to prepare and write up the inspection. Costs also include the administration of the inspection and quality assurance processes. As a result, the costs of inspection vary according to the size of the school. Some examples are:

A typical primary school of 241 pupils, with an inspection led by an additional inspector and the report quality assured by HMI, would be £6,018.

An inspection of a large primary school of 321 pupils, led by an HMI, would cost in the region of £8.704.

Most secondary school inspections are led by HMI. The cost of inspecting a small secondary school of 675 pupils would be £13,067; the cost of inspecting a large school of 1,465 pupils would be £15,645.

Higher Achieving Schools

Up to 30% of all schools are now considered for a reduced tariff inspection (RTI). These are schools which meet pre-defined criteria indicating that they are likely to be good or outstanding overall. In these inspections, one or two inspectors generally spend only one day in school though the inspections still require the two additional days for preparation and writing up of the report.

The tariff for each inspection is as follows:

Inspector days in school

1-899 pupils on roll


900+ pupils on roll


Split-site school


Unit for pupils with special educational needs


An RTI inspection in a typical primary school with 259 pupils would cost approximately £3,376 including quality assurance by an HMI. Most of these inspections in primary schools cost between £3,300 and £3,800.

The majority of reduced tariff inspections in secondary schools cost between £4,000 and £5,000. These figures are based on costs in the current financial year 2007/08.

A copy of this reply has been sent to Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners and will be placed in the Library of both Houses.