If returned to office after the election on 12 December, the Conservative party will provide more funding for Ofsted and increase the regulator’s powers to inspect schools with longer, more detailed visits.

This would only apply in England as education policy is devolved to national assemblies so that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all having different systems of school inspection or accountability.

A Conservative-led Government would trial no-notice Ofsted inspections and extend the length of visits at secondary schools and large primaries to three days with the extra day focusing on the school's approach to pupil behaviour, bullying and extra-curricular activities such as sport.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that his plans contrasted with proposals from Labour and the Lib Dems who both want to scrap Ofsted and replace it with more local oversight.

He said that he would invest an extra £10 million in Ofsted and also confirmed plans (which we reported some months ago, see “New drive to boost standards in schools”) to end the exemption that has seen "outstanding" schools not having to face regular inspections.

Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, welcomed this change of direction with regard to inspecting outstanding schools but was one of several union leaders to pour cold water on the idea of unannounced inspections.

For the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Paul Whiteman said that the proposal made no sense as “they will result in more wasted time for inspectors, whilst arrangements are frantically put in place to meet their needs”.

The idea of no-notice inspections has been floated in the past but has usually been rejected because of concerns that inspectors could arrive on days when a number of relevant senior staff were absent.

Last reviewed 10 December 2019