SCHOOLS in Lancashire have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Ofsted inspections carried out this year.

Sceptical union bosses believe this is part of the Government’s plan to force academy status on ‘failing’ schools.

But the independent body said it is revisiting those school classified as ‘satisfactory’ under the old grading system.

Ofsted has scrapped the ‘satisfactory’ category, and those schools are now classed as ‘requires improvement’.

Since September the number of inspections has more than doubled, increasing from five a week on average to as many as 13 across primary and secondary schools.

The Government has drawn up a hit-list of 36 ‘failing’ primary schools in Lancashire, including 19 in East Lancashire, which ministers refuse to release.

Lancashire NAHT secretary Les Turner said: “Rossendale, Pendle and West Lancashire are most vulnerable.

In a leaked letter from Lancashire County Council to secondary school headteachers, an officer said there had been an ‘unprecedented’ number of secondary school inspections taking place over the last two months.

At the end of October, there had been more than 13 Lancashire secondary schools inspected since September.

It said: “As expected, Ofsted have prioritised their resources into inspecting satisfactory schools.

“Of the 12 schools previously judged satisfactory in Lancashire, nine were judged good under the new framework.

“A smaller proportion of Lancashire schools to date have been judged to ‘require improvement’ than nationally.

“In two of the three Lancashire schools where this judgment has been made, inspectors have acknowledged focused leadership, high expectations, good quality planning, strong governance and evidence of impact and therefore recommended ‘light touch’ monitoring.”

And primary schools are being similarly targeted. Mr Turner said: “If each school is independent, it will break down the Lancashire local education authority.

“The government seem to think that if you take a school out of local authority control and privatise it then standards will improve in the school. This is not the case.”