Schools

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 schools and colleges FAQs.

School inspections from September 2009

A school inspection is carried out under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.

An overview of the legislative basis for inspection and the underlying principles which guide inspectors is contained in The framework for school inspection.

Outline guidance and grade descriptors for all of the judgements which inspectors make are set out in The evaluation schedule for schools.

The way in which inspections are organised is explained in Conducting school inspections.

Self-evaluation plays an important part in inspections and all schools are provided with an interactive online self-evaluation form (SEF) - see the self-evaluation and the SEF page. The interactive site has examples of blank SEFs for download.

How do we inspect?

Inspection is a process of evidence gathering, particularly through lesson observation, in order to provide an evaluation of how well a school is performing. Inspections take place over two days, and dialogue with senior managers in the school plays a central part. The school’s self-evaluation provides the starting point for inspectors, and the views of pupils, parents and other stakeholders are taken into account. Inspections are conducted by an inspection team. The size of the team is determined by the number on roll. Inspections result in a written report indicating one of four grades: outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate.

When do inspections take place?

The frequency of school inspections depends on the outcome of schools’ previous inspections and an annual assessment of their subsequent performance. Schools that were satisfactory at their last inspection are inspected within three school years from the end of the school year in which that inspection took place. About 40% of these schools will receive a monitoring visit between inspections to check on progress. Schools judged inadequate at their last inspection will continue to receive regular monitoring visits and are reinspected after a specific period.

Good or outstanding schools are inspected once within five school years from the end of the school year in which that inspection took place unless there are concerns about their performance, safeguarding or welfare arrangements. Good or outstanding schools not inspected three years after their last inspection will receive an assessment of their performance, called an interim assessment report. This assessment will draw on test and examination results and information about, for example, pupils' attendance. It will explain to the school and to parents why the school will not be inspected in that academic year.

How much notice do schools get of an inspection?

Schools receive between zero and two working days’ notice of a section 5 inspection, with most receiving between one and two days notice. HMCI may arrange for any school to be inspected without notice where there are particular reasons, such as those connected to pupils’ welfare, or where there are concerns about safeguarding or rapid decline in performance. Monitoring visits will be conducted without notice.

How are parents involved?

We ask schools to tell parents about the inspection and we ask schools to pass on an explanatory leaflet and letter to parents from us. The letter includes a confidential questionnaire asking for parents' and carers' views about the school, which they can return to the inspection team. It is available in English and different languages.

Parents can ask to speak to inspectors during the inspection, and our inspectors will do their best to meet with them.

How are pupils involved?

When a school is inspected, a sample of pupils completes a confidential questionnaire giving their views about the school. Inspectors talk to groups of pupils to find out their views about the school and what it provides for them.
Schools often conduct their own surveys to find out what pupils think. Inspectors will still see the results of this and discuss how the school has taken pupils’ views into account.

In boarding schools, residential special schools and children's homes that offer education pupils are asked to complete a further confidential questionnaire which gives the inspectors extra information about this aspect of the school's work.

Questionnaires are on the main documents for schools page.

Inspectors write a letter to pupils after the inspection to tell them the main findings and how the school can improve further.