Ofsted is the Office for Standards in
Education, Children’s Services and Skills.
Ofsted was set up in 1992 to inspect schools
but since 2007 the remit has expanded.
All 26,000 stated funded schools are
inspected regularly; hundreds of inspections
take place each week.
Ofsted costs around £20 million pounds per
Inspections have evolved over the years:
Smaller teams, focus on particular aspects.
Greater emphasis on self-evaluation.
Shorter notice of inspection.
Schools are given one week’s notice of
Lead inspectors plan the inspection using the
school’s up-loaded self-evaluation and an
analysis of test and examination data.
Inspectors follow ‘inspection trails’ to test out
Questionnaires are used to gather the views of
parents and pupils.
Inspectors observe a sample of lessons.
A report with grades is published on the Ofsted
website and is sent to parents by the school.
“The teaching is consistently effective in
ensuring that pupils are motivated and engaged.
The great majority of teaching is securing good
progress and learning. Teachers generally have
strong subject knowledge which enthuses and
challenges most pupils and contributes to their
good progress. Good and imaginative use is
made of resources, including new technology to
enhance learning. Other adults’ support is well
focused and makes a significant contribution to
the quality of learning...
...As a result of good assessment procedures,
teachers and other adults plan well to meet
the needs of all pupils. Pupils are provided
with detailed feedback, both orally and
through marking. They know how well they
have done and can discuss what they need to
do to sustain good progress. Teachers listen
to, observe and question groups of pupils
during lessons in order to reshape tasks and
explanations to improve learning.”
Where inspectors find that a school is failing
to provide an acceptable standard of
education, it is placed in special measures.
These schools are monitored regularly by
Of the schools placed in special measures,
85% have improved to become at least
In the first ten years of Ofsted’s work, 198
schools failed to improve and were closed.
The Framework for Inspection sets clear
Grade criteria provide schools with
benchmarks for self evaluation and
The use of objective data helps schools
analyse the quality of outcomes in absolute
and relative terms.
The sharing of good practice provides
examples and solutions.
“The teachers had high expectations of pupils‟
enjoyment and achievement. They made
conscious efforts to foster a spirit of enquiry,
developing pupils‟ reasoning skills through
approaches that saw problem-solving and
investigation as integral to learning
mathematics. They checked that everyone was
challenged to think hard and they adapted how
they were teaching to achieve this. As a result,
their classrooms were vibrant places of
Ofsted reports on the progress of groups of
pupils who commonly underachieve.
“Twelve outstanding schools. Excelling against
the odds” provides case studies of schools that
have improved in areas of disadvantage. The
“Their achievements do not happen by
chance, but by highly reflective, carefully
planned and implemented strategies which
serve these schools well in meeting the many
challenges which obstruct the path to
Ofsted accumulates a large body of evidence
upon which advice is based.
It reports on trends and issues ‘without fear
As well as providing an overview of the
system, surveys probe in detail to report on
subjects and aspects of education such as the
Does inspection have negative impact on
How can consistency and high quality be
maintained across large numbers of inspections?
Is inspection too reliant on published data?
Does inspection restrict innovation and
Why doesn’t Ofsted provide advice to help
schools address identified weaknesses?
Does Ofsted provide good value for money?
Ofsted is popular with parents; most teachers
surveyed think their school is likely to improve
following an inspection.
Shorter notice of inspection has had significant
Ofsted strives to maintain consistently high
standards of inspection.
Data is set in context: but there can be no excuse
for low standards.
Ofsted celebrates innovative and creative
curricula that are effective in meeting pupils’
“It is terribly important that we know what is
going on, that Parliament knows and that the
public know what it is getting for those
billions of pounds that are being spent on
education and I think that is, in the end, the
most important role that Ofsted plays,
reporting fearlessly and frankly on the state
of education.” HMCI, 2004
The Framework for School Inspection, Ofsted,
The Evaluation Schedule for Schools, Ofsted,
Mathematics: understanding the score,
‘Twelve outstanding schools. Excelling against
the odds’ Ofsted, 2009
All obtainable from www.ofsted.gov.uk