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Ofsted Inspections

Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

Schools are already able to request an Ofsted inspection, although I understand that such requests are rare. The hon. Gentleman will understand that it is important that the chief inspector of schools has the capacity to target inspection resources where they are needed most. The decision whether to inspect, following a request, is a matter for the discretion of the chief inspector, taking into account factors such as the timing of previous inspections.

I am grateful to the Minister, who is my constituency neighbour and who knows my local schools well. She knows that I have four grammar schools and four non-selective high schools, all of which are excellent. Of the non-selective high schools, three have already been awarded an “outstanding” categorisation by Ofsted. The fourth—Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic college—is confident that it, too, will be found to be outstanding. It is keen to receive that categorisation as soon as possible, so that it can proceed with applications for a second specialist status. I think that it will take comfort from the Minister’s words, and I would be grateful for any support that she can give.

I welcome the finding, in the school’s last inspection report, that parents and pupils hold the school in very high regard and that it performed very well across the piece. For reasons that the hon. Gentleman will understand, schools are now given minimal notice of inspections and so cannot choose when an inspection takes place, but if the school wants to make a request to Ofsted, Ofsted will consider that request for an inspection on its merits. I understand that the school must be inspected by June next year, so an inspection must be on the cards in the near future.