Why we inspect schools - what the law says

We are required by law to inspect all schools in England. These inspections are carried out under Section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

For parents or carers, schools and the wider community inspection reports:

  • provide an independent, external evaluation of the quality and standards of education at the school, and whether pupils are achieving as much as they can
  • provide a means by which schools are held accountable for their use of public money
  • promote the improvement in schools.


Monitoring visits

Ofsted also inspects schools under section 8 of the Education Act 2005, which empowers HMCI to inspect any school. HMCI may elect to treat section 8 inspections as section 5 inspections using her powers under Section 9 of the Act.

Ofsted's monitoring visits to schools causing concern, and to schools not in categories of concern, are undertaken under section 8. The visits are conducted in accordance with the general principles of the Guidance for Inspectors of Schools that apply to section 5 inspections. However, their purpose is different and this means that they may also be conducted slightly differently. Procedures, which should be read alongside the Guidance for Inspectors of Schools, explain how the conduct of monitoring inspections differs from that of section 5 inspections. These are complemented by guidance specific to the type of visit being made.