A guide for parents

This document applies to all maintained schools including special schools and pupil referral units. It also covers academies, city technology colleges, city colleges for the technology of the arts and some non-maintained special schools in England.

Why does Ofsted inspect schools? 

We inspect schools to provide information to parents, to promote improvement and to hold schools to account for the public money they receive. School inspections are required by law. We provide an independent assessment of the quality and standards of education in schools, and check whether pupils are achieving as much as they can.

Who inspects schools? 

Her Majesty’s Inspectors and Ofsted Inspectors (who in most cases are serving school leaders who inspect for Ofsted for an agreed number of days each year) carry out the inspections. All inspectors have been trained to, and assessed against, Ofsted’s standards.

When do inspections happen and how long do they last? 

A school that was judged to be outstanding at its last inspection is exempt from routine inspection. We will not normally inspect exempt schools unless we have a concern about their performance. Ofsted will also 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. Exemption from inspection does not apply to maintained nursery schools, special schools or pupil referral units.

A school judged to be good at its last inspection normally receives a short inspection (see section on ‘short inspections’ below).

A school judged as requires improvement at its last inspection will be subject to monitoring from inspectors to check its progress and is inspected within a period of around two years. If at that inspection it is still judged as requires improvement, there will be further monitoring, and another inspection will take place within a further two years. If at this inspection it is still not good, it is highly likely that it will be judged inadequate and deemed to require special measures.

A standard inspection usually lasts two days and the number of inspectors on the inspection team will vary according to the size and nature of the school.

What judgements do inspectors make? 

Inspectors will make graded judgements on the following areas using the four-point scale:

 Effectiveness of leadership and management

 Quality of teaching, learning and assessment

 Personal development, behaviour and welfare

 Outcomes for children and learners.

Where applicable, inspectors will also make a graded judgement on the effectiveness of the early years or sixth form provision in the school.

We give schools an overall grade from 1 to 4:

 grade 1 (outstanding)

 grade 2 (good)

 grade 3 (requires improvement)

 grade 4 (inadequate).

The school must take all reasonable steps to make sure that parents of pupils at the school receive a copy of the report.

 

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