Ofsted inspections explained for parents
Reading Ofsted reports is likely to be one of the first things you do when you’re choosing a school for your child.
Regular inspections are an important part of making sure that schools are providing children with a good education.
The reports can be a vital source of information about your child’s school but what actually happens when the inspectors visit?
Her Majesty’s Inspectors and Ofsted Inspectors (who in most cases are serving school leaders) carry out the inspections.
How often are schools inspected?
A school that was judged to be outstanding at its last inspection is exempt from routine inspection. Unless there are concerns, exempt schools will not normally be inspected.
Ofsted carry out an annual assessment of an exempt school’s performance (from the third year after the school’s last inspection) to determine whether an inspection might be necessary. Exempt schools continue to be inspected as part of Ofsted’s programme of surveys of curriculum subjects and aspects of the curriculum.
When Ofsted has judged a school to be good, it will normally be inspected about once every four years. This is called a section 8 inspection of a good school. Ofsted does not give graded judgements on a section 8 inspection of a good school, but if some evidence is found that the school would now be better than good, or standards may be declining, they’ll conduct a full inspection with graded judgements, called a section 5 inspection.
If the quality of provision in the school has deteriorated significantly, or where a school has undergone significant change then a school will automatically receive a section 5 inspection instead of a section 8 inspection.
A school judged as requires improvement at its last inspection will be inspected again within a period of 30 months. Where a school has been judged as requires improvement at two successive inspections, it will be subject to monitoring from inspectors to check its progress and is inspected again within a period of 30 months.
How much notice do schools get?
Most schools receive notice of their inspection on the morning of the school day before the inspection begins.
However, Ofsted can inspect any school without notice where this is judged to be appropriate.
What happens during an inspection?
Inspectors talk to the headteacher, governors, staff and pupils, and consider your views as a parent. They spend most of their time observing a wide range of lessons and looking at the quality of education in the school, and the impact of the curriculum. Inspectors give specific attention to the acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills in lessons.
They also look at the personal development, behaviour, attitudes and welfare of pupils at the school, the promotion of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development; and how well the school is led and managed.
How can I make my views known?
If you’re a parent or carer, we’ll send you a letter just before an inspection with information on how to share your views.
Ofsted Parent View, is the main source used to gather parents’ views about a school. Inspectors will use the views expressed on Ofsted Parent View when inspecting your child’s school.
What judgements do inspectors make?
Inspectors will make graded judgements on the following:
and the four key judgements:
the quality of education
behaviour and attitudes
leadership and management.
Where applicable, inspectors will also make a graded judgement on the effectiveness of the early years or sixth form provision in the school.
Inspectors use the following four-point scale to make all judgements:
grade 1 (outstanding)
grade 2 (good)
grade 3 (requires improvement)
grade 4 (inadequate).