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EDITIONS
Friday, 15 December, 2000, 07:41 GMT
Inspections
The independent Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is a non-ministerial government department headed by Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools.

Ofsted's job is regularly to inspect all maintained schools and report on standards of achievement. All state schools are inspected by teams of independent inspectors on contract to Ofsted.

They report on good practice in schools and other educational issues based on inspection evidence. A new inspection regime introduced in 1997 will see schools inspected once every six years, or more frequently if there is cause.

A summary of the inspection report must be sent to the parents of each pupil by the school, followed by a copy of the governors' plan on how they are going to act on the report's recommendations.

Full reports are available on Ofsted's Website.

Failing

If school inspectors decide that a school is ''failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education'', the local education authority can appoint new governors and withdraw delegated management from the school.

As an alternative, central government can put the school under new management until its performance reaches a satisfactory level.

After further visits from inspectors, the edcuation secretary decides whether the school has made sufficient progress. If it has not, the school could close. The process takes about two years.

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