Posted by: Feargal Hogan
Public Sector Information Holder: Ofsted
Information Asset: The School Inspection database
Ofsted regularly visit (on a cycle of between 2 and 6 years) each school in England and perform an inspection. The results of these inspections are published on the Ofsted website, historically in PDF format, more recently as html and PDF.
There is no published mechanism for creating links to these reports from outside the Ofsted site. Even DirectGov doesn't link directly to the latest Ofsted report from its school information pages. It has a generic link to the Ofsted homepage on every school's page.
Most schools try to make their latest Ofsted report available to visitors to their own website. Sometimes this is as a PDF copy of the report, sometimes as a link to the the Ofsted version. Both have their drawbacks. Local copies always raise an authenticity question. "Is this the full unexpurgated report?" With links, they often break. Ofsted move things around; a new inspection is performed, etc.
My ideal solution
There are 2 possible solutions here:
1) Ofsted develop/build/publish an API to allow external programmatic access to their datasets
Minimum functions required to include:
a) show_latest_report(school_urn) - directlink to webpage for the latest published report for a school
b) show_report_history(school_urn) - returns xml fragment containing details of all inspection reports available for a school (date, grade, type, format, uri, report_id)
c) show_report(report_id) - directlink to webpage for a specific published report
2) Ofsted regularly publish a full list of ALL reports for every school in an accessible format, including date_of_inspection, school_urn, grade/judgement, type, format, uri, report_id
The minimum accessible format would be an excel spreadsheet.
With #2, the private sector would be left to build their own apis to the data.
What I would do
Depending on the format unlocked, every school in England could create a permanent link to its latest Ofsted report. DirectGov could do the same. Third parties could add value by creating geo-mashups showing inspection grades of local schools as well as offering inspection history from school information pages.
It might also enable some interesting analysis on grade improvements.