With the launch of the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework and School Inspection Handbook, what will inspections under the new framework be actually like?

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Ofsted Inspections

There will be main parts of the inspection regime:


Deep dives

Bringing it together

Most inspections will generally be two days (apart from smaller schools), but preparation will start the day before.

Next Steps


Ofsted will phone the school by 2pm on the day before the inspection, to let the school know who is coming, confirm things such as number of pupils on roll. They will also send emails requests that certain information (attendance analysis, exclusions, bad behaviour records) is available to inspectors by 8 a.m. the next day (inspectors will not arrive on school before this time).

There will then be a more substantive call with the headteacher (or other school leaders if not available). This will focus on three aspects:


The school’s context, and progress since the previous inspection

  • including elements for improvement previously identified in previous inspections.

The headteacher’s assessment of the school’s current strength and weaknesses, especially with regard to:

  • the curriculum and the way teaching supports pupils to learn it (what are the key concepts, and in what order will they learn them?),
  • standards of attainment,
  • pupils’ behaviour, attitudes and personal development.

Specific areas of the school that should be the subject of the inspection focus – for example..

  • specific subjects
  • year groups, and
  • aspects of provision.

Deep dives

During the inspection, inspectors are not going to concentrate on the ambitions or intentions of senior leaders, but rather “let’s see that in action together”.

They will have a series of deep dives on particular subjects:

  • For secondary schools, they will sample four to six subjects.
  • For primary schools, they will sample three to five subjects. It will always include reading, it will usually include maths, and there will also be one or more foundation subjects, including one that is taught during the inspection.

In small schools, this may be adapted as appropriate.

Each deep dive will look at the following, usually jointly with school and curriculum leaders, and will try to connect these different pieces of evidence:

Senior Leaders

Curriculum Leaders 

Lesson Visits

  • preferably between four to six lessons.
  • It will not be a random sample, but connected to other evidence.
  • Inspectors will not grade individual lessons or teachers, but evaluate where a lesson sits in a sequence.

Work scrutiny

  • This will be of at least two year groups, and at least six  workbooks or pieces of work per subject per year group.
  • It is not a random sample, but linked to other parts of the evidence.
  • Do they support other evidence that what the school wanted to teach has been covered? It is not going to be used to demonstrate whether an individual pupil is working at the expected standard, or to judge individual progress over time.

Discussions with teachers.

  • This will be used to understand how the curriculum informs their content and choices,
  • and sequencing to support effective learning.

Discussions with pupils from the lessons observed.

  • Having covered a part of the curriculum does not indicate whether pupils know more, remember more and can do more, and so work scrutinies by themselves are not enough.
  • Observing pupils outside of normal lessons can help evaluate personal development, behaviour and attitudes.
  • Pupils will be asked about their experiences of teaching, learning and behaviour, including the prevention of bullying and how the school deals with harassment and violence.
  • Inspectors will not expect school staff to be present at this time.

Inspectors will at times focus on your school’s most disadvantaged pupils, including pupils with SEND, FSM6, LAC/CLA, and Children in Need of help and protection.

If you are wondering where “intent, implementation and impact” are in the deep dives, they are not sub-judgements, but will form part of connected evidence across the entire “quality of education” judgement.

Additional evidence can be collected if there is insufficient evidence or leaders wish to present more.

Inspectors will also be meeting those responsible for governance, and will meet the headteacher regularly to provide updates, and alert the headteacher to any serious concerns, or allow the headteacher to raise concerns.

Bringing it all together

At the end of day 1, the inspection team will meet to:

  • share the evidence, and identify any features which are systemic and which are isolated to a single aspect,
  • bring together evidence about things such as personal development, behaviour and attitudes, safeguarding, and wider leadership findings,
  • quality assure the evidence and its connectiveness, and
  • establish what inspection activities should be done on day 2 to come to conclusions about which features are systemic, or are needed to come to the key judgements.

At the end of day 2, the team will meet to:

  • finalise judgements and identify areas for improvement, and
  • have a final feedback with the school.

Next Steps

Hopefully this article has clarified what will happen under the new Inspection Regime. You will no doubt be reviewing your curriculum against the School Inspection Handbook to ensure it can be the best it can be for your pupils.

  • Make sure that you have all the information that inspectors will require by 8 a.m. on Day 1 is either available or easily retrievable.
  • If your analysis is stored on an MIS, you might want to have a easy-to-read manual of what buttons to press to retrieve the necessary information, especially important if someone is off sick on the preparation day.
  • Know all of the implications of the data stored in your school’s IDSR – inspectors will still be reviewing them before coming to your school.
  • Also review the information in the ASP. This can help inform your curriculum and strengths and weaknesses as of the end of Key Stages 2 and 4.
  • A Question Level Analysis can help inform your curriculum. This could be of your incoming Year 7 (for secondary schools), or for primary schools either of your outgoing Year 6 or those who are currently in your schools. Again, this can help inform your curriculum, content of lessons, and sequencing of lessons.

Our ASaP report analyses your ASP for you including detailed insight into all your cohort groups.

Question Level Analysis breaks assessment data down into meaningful insight that can be used to make a real difference in your classroom.


The source for this report has been taken from many sources, including:

The documents are issued under the Open Government Licence for Public Sector Information version 3.0.

DAISI Education

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