'No-notice' inspections planned for schools

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Schools will face a regime of "no-notice" inspections under a plan being considered by the education watchdog, Ofsted. The move is to be piloted soon with a view to being introduced nationwide if it is successful.

Christine Gilbert, the chief schools inspector who unveiled the plan to MPs on the schools select committee yesterday, indicated she also wants parents and pupils to have more power to trigger an inspection. She told MPs: "We are considering representations from parents and pupils that inspections should take place without prior notice."

Schools are now warned of a visit two days beforehand. This was cut from a term's notice after teachers spoke of too much stress preparing for inspections.

They opposed the new plan yesterday. John Dunford, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "No-notice inspections would be more punitive and create increased stress as heads keep a constant watch on the school gate for the arrival of the inspectors."