What is OFSTED? | Educational Standards

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This blog post is produced by the UK’s number one education recruitment agency, Engage Education.

What does OFSTED stand for?

OFSTED stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

What are the main responsibilities of OFSTED?

OFSTED is responsible for:

  1. The inspection and regulation of educational institutions including independent schools, state schools, academies and childcare facilities
  2. The inspection of agencies responsible for adoption, fostering and other social care services
  3. The inspection of other services for children and young people
  4. Carrying out research on education and social care
  5. Reporting on the above institutions and relaying the information to the government

Although OFSTED is a non-ministerial department of the UK government and reports to Parliament, it is independent and impartial.

What is an OFSTED rating?

OFSTED rank schools based on information gathered in inspections which they undertake. OFSTED ratings are the means by which OFSTED inspectors indicate the quality of an institution following an inspection.

There are four OFSTED ratings:

  1. Grade 1: Outstanding
    An outstanding school provides exceptionally well for the needs of its pupils and prepares them for the next stage of their education or employment at the highest possible level.
    Educational institutions which are rated as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED are exempt from routine OFSTED inspection unless they are nurseries, special schools or Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).
  2. Grade 2: Good
    A good school provides well for the needs of its pupils and prepares them effectively for the next stage of their education or employment. Schools rated as ‘good’ receive a one-day short inspection every three years, or a full inspection if the school’s performance has changed dramatically.
  3. Grade 3: Requires Improvement.A school that requires improvement is not inadequate, but neither is it satisfactory. Schools which are rated as requiring improvement will receive another full OFSTED inspection within two years in order to monitor their progress.
  4. Grade 4: InadequateAn inadequate school has significant weaknesses and is failing to prepare its students effectively for the next stages of their lives. The management and leadership, however, are judged to be Grade 3 or above. Schools graded as inadequate will receive regular OFSTED inspections. If the management team of a Grade 4 school is not judged to be Grade 3 or above, it will be ranked as a Special Measures school. An inadequate school has significant weaknesses and is failing to prepare its students effectively for the next stages of their lives. The management and leadership, however, are judged to be Grade 3 or above.

    Schools graded as inadequate will receive regular OFSTED inspections. If the management team of a Grade 4 school is not judged to be Grade 3 or above, it will be ranked as a Special Measures school.

How much notice do OFSTED give before an inspection?

Generally speaking, OFSTED will notify a school at midday on the day before its inspection. This is to ensure that the headteacher, the chair of governors and all other relevant staff members are present for the inspection.

In situations where serious complaints have been made about a school – such as those pertaining to pupils’ safety – OFSTED can inspect a school without prior notice. In this case, the school will be notified fifteen minutes before the arrival of the OFSTED inspector.

OFSTED inspections cannot take place in the first five working days of the autumn term. They can also be deferred in exceptional circumstances such as school closure.

What happens during an OFSTED inspection?

The most important aspect of an OFSTED inspection is class observation. The inspectors will sit in on lessons and gather evidence in order to help them gauge a school’s rating.

Other inspection methods used by OFSTED include:

  1. Communicating with pupils and teaching staff about the school
  2. Taking into consideration school evaluations undertaken by local authorities
  3. Meeting with the headteacher and senior staff members in order to discuss their findings and provide oral feedback

After the inspection OFSTED will:

  1. Write a full report on the findings of their inspection
  2. Send this report to the school in order to receive feedback
  3. The completed report is then published by OFSTED within twenty eight days of the inspection

The school is required by law to provide a copy of the report to the parents of all pupils.

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