How long should it take a school to move out of Special Measures?

With three of the six secondary schools in Special Measures, many parents might be wondering how long it should take for the schools to exit Special Measures.

Egg timer by apothecary

One of the questions parents of pupils at Cowes Enteprise College may be asking at Monday’s public meeting is why the College is still in Special Measures after four Section 8 inspections.

Further insight into the Ofsted-supplied data behind the public question recently asked about schools in Special Measures at the Executive Committee meeting may bring clarity.

The question pointed out that “approximately three quarters of schools that exited Special Measures last academic year did so with three or fewer monitoring visits” and went on to ask what the Isle of Wight council was doing to support Cowes Enterprise.

Local situation
The Isle of Wight currently has four secondary schools with an Inadequate rating from Ofsted, with three of those (Cowes Enterprise College, Sandown Bay Academy and Carisbrooke College) in Special Measures.

In addition, three primary schools (Niton, Barton and Newport) are also currently in Special Measures following Section 5 Ofsted inspections.

How long do Special Measures usually last?
Cowes Enterprise College received their last Section 5 inspection from Ofsted in November 2012, the outcome of which found the school to be Inadequate and it was placed in Special Measures.

Carisbrooke College was placed in Special Measures following an inspection in March 2013. Sandown Bay Academy had their inspection in January 2013 and Ryde Academy in April 2013.

All those in Special Measures have had at least three monitoring visits since Ofsted’s full inspection.

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IW Schools Ofsted Inspections

Of interest, an article published by the BBC in February, reporting praise from Ofsted for fast exit from Special Measures for a Cornish school reported Ofsted as saying,

“The average time it took for a school to come out of special measures in 2013 was 16 months.”

Academy conversion
Readers may be interested to know that Ofsted categories do not transfer to ‘new’ schools e.g. if a school becomes an academy (see sample letter embedded below), as Cowes Enteprise College plans to do in September.

A paper compiled by Hampshire’s Children’s Services (embedded below) reports (item 2.8) that in relation to secondary schools on the Isle of Wight,

“Three are in the process of negotiation to become sponsored academies and the Local Authority is involved in those discussions.”

An assumption can be made that the statement refers to Cowes Enterprise College, Carisbrooke College and Medina College.

How many monitoring visits?
So how many monitoring visits might a school receive once in Special Measures? According to further information received from Ofsted:

  • A school may receive up to five monitoring inspections over the 24 months following the section 5 inspection that placed it in special measures.
  • On the second and any subsequent monitoring inspection, the lead inspector will consider whether the school has made sufficient progress and no longer requires special measures. Where this is the case, the section 8 inspection will be deemed a section 5 inspection. All the judgements required by the evaluation schedule will be made and a full inspection report produced.

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Special Measures monitoring visits - graph
Example: Of schools exiting special measures in 2012-13, 74% of them did so with three, or fewer, (‘Section 8’) monitoring visits prior to the inspection visit that was seemed to be a full (‘Section 5’) inspection removing them from Special Measures.

A Higher Analytical Officer from Ofsted said,

“It would not be fair to say that just because the school was removed from special measures after a third monitoring visit, that it was necessarily worse than another school that only had two visits.”

Whether the same is true for schools still in Special Measures after their fourth monitoring visit it not clear.

Further details of Ofsted guidance for schools coming out of Special Measures can be found in the official document below. Click on the full screen icon to see larger version in a new window.

Image: Apothecary under CC BY 2.0

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3 Comments on "How long should it take a school to move out of Special Measures?"

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The re-organisation of the Island’s schools was botched from start to finish. This is the result. Everything else is papering over the cracks of an unworkable school system that was created with money in mind, not education.

From property to personnel; a shambles.

Unless the school managements stop bullying staff and reduce the inhuman workload imposed by them on teachers no school will improve as all the decent teachers who can are leaving for jobs elsewhere than the Island or even outside education altogether. Contrary to the DoE’s propoganda, there has never been a worse time to be a teacher. Reduce the ridiculous bureaucracy and stop treating teachers in ways… Read more »
S T Osmund
It is a long time since teachers were treated with the respect accorded to their students. Teachers are the filling in the sandwich – leaned on by senior management above and often verbally abused by students and their parents. Not all parents, it has to be said, but some parents do support their children’s abusive behaviour. Equally some parents blame teachers for the Island’s shocking lack of… Read more »