The Educator’s Guide to the Ofsted Inspection Framework
The Ofsted inspection framework
The Ofsted inspection framework is the statutory system in which Ofsted, a non-ministerial department of the UK government, performs its functions regarding the inspection, regulation and reporting of education in England. First, we will look at Ofsted’s main responsibilities and the essential pillars of the framework.
Who is Ofsted?
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This UK institution inspects all services that provide education and skills for learners of all ages in England, while also inspecting and regulating those that care for children and young people.
Ofsted’s roles and functions can be summarised in three areas:
- Inspecting (e.g., inspecting schools’ given teaching methods)
- Regulating (e.g., making sure social care services are suitable for children)
- Reporting (e.g., publishing any findings and reporting to policymakers)
Contrary to popular belief, Ofsted inspects mostly, but not exclusively, maintained or state schools and academies but also some independent schools and many other educational institutions and programmes outside of higher education.
Out of these responsibilities, Ofsted is mostly known for their inspecting services as they carry out direct inspections and visits to organisations throughout England. Their role is to secure a high standard of “education, training and care services” for children and students. The examined organisations range from standard schools and academies to further education and even adoption and fostering agencies.
For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on the first group and refer to these investigated institutions shortly as schools.
What is the Ofsted inspection framework?
The Ofsted inspection framework defines how Ofsted inspects schools in England. The current and fairly new framework is called the education inspection framework (EIF) or “framework” in short and was introduced in September 2019. The one before was called the common inspection framework, valid since September 2015 and withdrawn with the publication of EIF.
The Ofsted framework is a collection of principles inspectors follow during their work where they have to meet relevant legislation. Inspectors must have appropriate training and expertise to bring their decisions in which they have to reflect a range of factors, including the needs and expectations of different age groups.
There are four inspection handbooks under the framework to help inspectors in forming judgements about schools which can be useful reads for educators in preparation for inspections:
- Registered early years provision
- Maintained schools and academies
- Non-association independent schools
- Further education and skills
We will look at how an inspection process takes place in detail in a later section.