Learning and skills

Safeguarding and Criminal Records Bureau requirements: confirmation of appropriate checks for inspectors

Ofsted and its partner inspection service providers have undertaken the required employment checks for all staff who visit schools and colleges as part of an inspection. This includes all appropriate employment checks and an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) disclosure.

Employment checks, including enhanced CRB checks, were undertaken as part of the engagement in employment process for all HMI and Additional Inspectors.

We further require that all staff are re-checked every three years, although we recognise that this is not a statutory requirement.

All HMI and Additional Inspectors carry official Ofsted photo identification badges which are provided to confirm to schools and other providers that they are subject to the safeguarding process as outlined above.

If you have any safeguarding questions, please first see the safeguarding FAQs, which include learning and skills FAQs.

What do we inspect?

We inspect a wide range of further education and training providers, and can compare standards across the range of publicly-funded provision, including those:

... currently funded by the Learning and Skills Council on behalf of the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:

  • education and training for 14- to 19-year-olds in a local area
  • all work-based learning (provided wholly or partly on employers' premises) for people aged 16 or over - for example, apprenticeships and national vocational qualifications
  • education for people aged 19 or over in further education colleges, local authorities or voluntary organisations
  • work-based and adult learning in prisons and young offenders institutions, at the invitation of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons.

...funded by other government departments

  • training for employment funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, including the New Deals
  • training of service men and women from the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, for the Ministry of Defence.

An inspection of further education and skills is carried out under the Education and Inspection Act 2006. It is a process of evidence gathering in order to provide an evaluation of how well a college or provider is performing.

Inspections are short and focused, and dialogue with senior managers in the college or provider plays a central part. The provider’s self-assessment provides the starting point for inspectors, and the views of learners, employers and other stakeholders are taken into account.

Inspections are conducted by an inspection team. The size of the team is determined by the number of learners, the geographical spread and range of the provision. Inspections result in a written report indicating one of four grades for the college’s or provider’s overall effectiveness in meeting the needs and interests of learners and other users: outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate.

The frequency of inspections is in proportion to risk.

We inspect colleges and providers against the Common inspection framework for further education and skills 2009.

When do inspections take place?

From September 2009, Ofsted is varying the frequency of college and provider inspections, depending on the outcome of an annual process for selecting providers for inspection. This involves reviewing their previous inspections and their subsequent performance.

Colleges and providers that were satisfactory at their last inspection will be inspected within four years of that inspection. these providers may receive a monitoring visit between inspections to check on progress. Colleges or providers judged inadequate at their last inspection will continue to receive monitoring visits, followed by a full or partial reinspection approximately 12–15 months after the previous inspection.

Good or outstanding colleges or providers may have up to six years between inspections unless there are concerns about their performance or other aspects of their provision. Good or outstanding colleges or providers not inspected within three years of their last inspection will receive an assessment of their performance, called an interim assessment. This assessment will draw on performance data on all aspects of their provision and a published letter will inform the college or provider that it will not be inspected in that academic year.

How much notice do colleges and providers get of an inspection?

Colleges and providers will receive between two and three weeks’ notice of an inspection. HMCI may arrange for any college or provider to be inspected without notice where there are particular reasons, such as there are concerns about safeguarding or rapid decline in performance. Monitoring visits will be conducted with three weeks’ notice.

How are learners and employers involved?

We will ask colleges and providers to inform all their learners and employers about the inspection and we will pass on a message via email, inviting them to provide their views directly to the inspection team. This will be done shortly after notice of inspection up until the first day of the inspection. The email suggests topics learners and employers may want to comment on to inspectors. These include the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, the effectiveness of the care, guidance and support they receive and how well the provision meets their individual needs.

Inspectors will talk to learners to find out their views about the school and what it provides for them. They will also visit or telephone learners and employers at work.

When is the inspection report published?

The inspection report is published within 25 working days of the inspection. It includes a summary report for learners and employers that contains the main findings.