6th October 2022
What is Ofsted?
Ofsted is a government organisation that carries out inspections to grade schools as a judgement of quality and performance. It’s important for teachers to understand Ofsted, as a school’s grade is often a deciding factor for parents when choosing a school for their children.
The 2021 Annual Ofsted Parents Survey found that 84% of parents find Ofsted inspection reports useful. As a result, a school’s Ofsted score is very important.
What does Ofsted stand for?
Ofsted stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
Is Ofsted a government body?
Technically, Ofsted isn’t classed as a government body and operates independently. Although Ofsted is a non-ministerial department of the UK government and reports to Parliament, it is independent and impartial. Whilst Ofsted operates independently, it’s accountable to Parliament because the central government provides the funding, therefore Ofsted’s actions must be explained to the education minister.
What is the role of Ofsted?
The role of Ofsted is mainly to inspect and report on schools. However, the varied range of responsibilities includes:
- The inspection and regulation of educational institutions including independent schools, state schools, academies and childcare facilities.
- The inspection of agencies responsible for adoption, fostering and other social care services.
- The inspection of other services for children and young people.
- Carrying out research on education and social care.
- Reporting on the above institutions and relaying the information to the government.
What is an Ofsted rating?
Ofsted ranks schools based on information gathered in inspections that they undertake. Ofsted ratings are the means by which inspectors indicate the quality of an institution following an inspection.
What are the different Ofsted ratings?
There are four Ofsted ratings:
- 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).
- 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. The Watchsted analysis has found that Grade 2 – Good is the most common rating, with 88 out of 100 primary schools receiving Good overall.
- 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.
- Grade 4: Inadequate. 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. 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.
What does the Ofsted term ‘special measures’ mean?
A school is identified as requiring ‘special measures’ if it received a Grade 4 in almost all categories, including leadership and management. This suggests that major changes in staffing and education need to be addressed.
Once a school has been officially identified as ‘special measures’, Ofsted will provide an action plan so the school can follow steps to improve its grade. In some cases, Ofsted might send a consultant (sometimes called ‘superheads’) to help improve and support the school.
How much notice does 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?
Before an Ofsted inspection begins, inspectors will read the previous Ofsted report and take note of any data including previous complaints, the number of pupils and overall school academic performance. Generally, Ofsted inspections will last anywhere from one day for a short inspection to up to four days for a full inspection.
Ofsted must follow the education inspection framework which dictates how Ofsted carries out inspections. The principles apply to inspection and the main judgements inspectors make when carrying out an Ofsted visit.
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:
- Sending parents a letter asking for opinions on the school via the Ofsted Parent View website.
- Communicating with pupils and teaching staff about the school.
- Taking a look at pupils’ books and work.
- Checking whether pupils understand their work and if they’re enjoying it and engaging in lessons.
- Taking into consideration school evaluations undertaken by local authorities.
- Meeting with the headteacher and senior staff members in order to discuss their findings and provide oral feedback.
- Making note of any areas of concern such as bullying.
What is included in the Ofsted education inspection framework 2022?
The Ofsted education inspection framework was devised by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for use from September 2019. It’s essentially guidelines that Ofsted inspectors must follow when making judgements of a school. It ensures that different inspectors follow the same framework so that the process is fair and consistent.
The education inspection framework is updated each year and includes the following:
- COVID-19 – challenges relating to COVID-19 have now become a permanent section of the education inspection framework. This takes into account how COVID may influence decisions and the level of safety measures in schools.
- Transitional arrangements – Ofsted inspectors now expect schools to have made transitional arrangements to their curriculum following COVID-19. Changes to the curriculum should no longer be temporary emergency measures.
- Judgement principles – each year the framework includes a list of principles inspectors must follow when making judgements on a school’s performance.
- Handbooks – the inspection framework includes four handbooks for registered early years provision, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills. These handbooks help with judgements and differences between various age groups.
What happens after an Ofsted inspection?
After carrying out the inspection, Ofsted will write a full report on their findings. This report will then be shared with the school for any feedback, mainly in case there are any errors. The complete report will then be published by Ofsted within 28 days of the inspection.
The school is required by law to provide a copy of the report to the parents of all pupils. Parents can also find the official Ofsted report for their children’s school online via the Ofsted website.
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