'Lefty, hippy types won't be working for me very long': Ofsted boss vows to root out 'trendy' teaching methods as he launches overhaul of school inspections

  • Sir Michael Wilshaw revealed 60 per cent of schools - those rated 'good' - will get short visits from one inspector every two to three years
  • Full inspections 'triggered if standards have dropped or risen dramatically'
  • Child-centred teaching was popular in the 60s and 70s and saw children left to work alone for long periods with little help from teachers

Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw

Announcements: Sir Michael Wilshaw denied the schools watchdog was full of 'Lefty, hippy types' but said those who backed those methods 'wouldn't be working for me for very long'

The boss of Ofsted has vowed to get rid of education inspectors who back 'trendy child-centred' teaching methods in light of warnings that such methods damage schoolchildren.

Sir Michael Wilshaw denied the schools watchdog was full of 'Lefty, hippy types' but said those who backed those methods 'wouldn't be working for me for very long'.

The idealogy was popular in the Sixties and Seventies and saw children left to work along for long periods of time with little help from teachers - although they were championed at the time for allowing youngsters to work independently.

He made the comments on Radio 4's Today  programme yesterday as he revealed full routine inspections of the majority of England's schools are to be ditched in a major overhaul of the system.

He said: 'I experienced, when I started teaching in the Sixties, that sort of ideology which ruined the lives of generations of children at the time'.

Later on he said that inspectors were under instruction to mark down those sort of techniques which he said were 'unstructured' and 'not teacher-led'.

Under the new plans, around three fifths (60%) of schools - those rated as 'good' - will get short visits from one inspector every two to three years.

Full inspections will only be triggered if there are indications that standards at a school have dropped or risen dramatically, Sir Michael said.

The move comes amid growing concerns from headteachers and other groups about the current state of the inspections system and the quality of some inspectors.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has warned that the current system is expensive, unnecessary and 'not very smart', while a report published by a think tank earlier this week called for the introduction of a new two-stage inspection process.

Unveiling Ofsted's proposals at ASCL annual conference in Birmingham, Sir Michael said that schools rated 'good' should get 'light-touch' visits every two to three years by an inspector, or a serving school leader working as an associate inspector.

The findings of the visit would be shared with parents.

'At the moment, it can be five years or even more between inspections for a good school,' Sir Michael said.

'This is too long. It's too long for parents. It's too long between inspections to spot decline, and it's too long for improving schools to show that they are outstanding.

'Far better for an inspector to visit the school for a day than for a full team to descend on the school more infrequently, and then giving, more likely than not, the same judgment as the previous inspection.'

Even if inspectors do find problems in a school, a full visit may not be triggered if the school's leaders are dealing with the issues properly, Sir Michael said.

The changes will be developed over the next 18 months, he revealed, adding that the watchdog is also set to conduct a major review of 'outsourced inspections'.

Pupils at King Edward V1 School in Handsworth start their GCSE examination in Biology

Overhaul: Under the plans, around three fifths (60%) of schools - those rated as 'good' - will get short visits from one inspector every two to three years. At the moment in can be five years between inspections

Under the current system, a number of private firms employ inspectors who conduct inspections for Ofsted.

But concerns have been raised about this process and Sir Michael said that school inspection is too important for Ofsted to just oversee these arrangements.

The fifth of schools that are rated as outstanding are already exempt from routine inspections, and they will face a similar inspection system to good schools in the future, it was suggested.

Earlier today ASCL published a new paper calling for the current inspection system to be scrapped in favour of short visits every two to three years by a single experienced inspector.

It also called for all inspectors to be serving or recently retired school leaders who work directly for Ofsted.

The paper suggests that there should be a standardised schools 'health check', supported by a one-day visit from an inspector.

This check would look at whether a school was successful, if it was improving, if there were areas for improvement which the school could deal with, or whether a full inspection was needed to come up with an action plan for improvement.

ASCL president Ian Bauckham, said: 'We need to move away from routine, detailed inspection of successful schools. This is expensive and unnecessary and not very smart. We can find out a lot about schools without it.

'These could be replaced with a short school visit by a single inspector every two or three years. When problems are identified, a check of the school's own approach carried out primarily with the school's leadership, should be the first response.'

Mr Bauckham, who is also head of Bennett Memorial Diocesan School in Kent, added: 'Only as a last step, and hopefully increasingly rarely, should forensic, 'under the skin' inspection be needed. And when it is, it should be undertaken by a slimmer inspection workforce largely consisting of other appropriately trained school leaders.'

The proposals come just days after a major report by right-wing think tank Policy Exchange called for short one-day checks to be made on schools every two years, with detailed 'tailored' inspections for those that are not up to scratch.

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