Self-evaluation and the SEF

Rigorous self-evaluation is at the heart of effective school improvement. The online self-evaluation form (SEF) introduced alongside the Framework for the inspection of schools helps schools to be sharply evaluative. The SEF mirrors the evaluation schedule used by inspectors so that schools can make the best use of the grade descriptors and guidance it contains. Crucially, schools can readily identify what they need to do to step up a grade.

The SEF is used by inspectors before the inspection to help identify where they might need to focus their efforts. The accuracy and clarity of the school’s evaluation also helps to inform the inspectors’ initial view of the quality of leadership and management and the school’s capacity to improve.

Tackling the SEF

Schools should make sure they are familiar with the approach outlined in the booklet Tackling the SEF. This short booklet contains training materials which were used at the dissemination conferences in the summer term 2009. It provides ideal material for a staff meeting and is essential reading for all headteachers.

Completing the SEF

The SEF is a user-friendly tool that enables schools to edit, save and submit their evaluations as many times as they wish. It also requires little IT knowledge to complete, maintain, validate and store the data.

All maintained and some non-maintained schools can use the online SEF. Access to the data is restricted via the secure password system and any data entered will remain confidential to the school. Detailed guidance on how to complete the self-evaluation form is provided below, along with a blank example of the self-evaluation form.

The online SEF

The online SEF can be found at

Once schools log-in to their self-evaluation form, they have access to detailed guidance for each section of the form.

The following document is a short guide on using the online forms site, including how to insert information into the self-evaluation: Completing your self-evaluation form: a practical guide.

Schools are encouraged to look at guidance for inspectors and training materials, for example on judging attainment, which can be found on the main inspection documents for inspectors page.

An example of a blank self-evaluation form can be downloaded from the online SEF's site.

Instructions for schools on saving a copy of their SEF or SIEF

In line with the government’s programme for cost efficiency and reducing bureaucracy Ofsted will discontinue the self-evaluation form (SEF) website from 22 July 2011. From this date, schools will no longer be able to access their SEF for maintained schools or school information and self-evaluation form (SIEF) for independent schools. If you wish to keep a copy of the data and information you have entered in your SEF or SIEF you must save your SEF or SIEF to your school’s own electronic filing system by 21 July 2011 at the latest. Guidance on how to do this is available in our leaflet Instructions for schools on saving a copy of their SEF or SIEF