Inspection judgements: Ofsted grade descriptors

Use our side-by-side comparison of Ofsted grade descriptors, which reflect updates to the School Inspection Handbook from September 2023 and January 2024, to understand the criteria inspectors use to make their judgements.

Last reviewed on 28 February 2024See updates
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  1. Download our side-by-side comparison of Ofsted grade descriptors
  2. Areas of judgement used for inspection

Download our side-by-side comparison of Ofsted grade descriptors

It sets out Ofsted grade descriptors side by side so you can compare them easily. These are the descriptors used for each area of judgement in graded school inspections.

Ofsted updated its inspection handbook for September 2023 and January 2024, which includes some minor changes to grade descriptors.

We’ve updated our comparison document to reflect this – we've marked the additions in red (bold) in our download to make it easier for you to see the changes.

KeyDoc: Ofsted grade descriptors – side-by-side comparison DOC, 253.0 KB

Areas of judgement used for inspection

The areas of judgement used for inspection are:

  • Overall effectiveness
  • Quality of education
  • Behaviour and attitudes 
  • Personal development
  • Leadership and management 
  • The effectiveness of early years provision (where applicable)
  • The effectiveness of sixth form programmes (where applicable)

The evaluation schedule isn't exhaustive and doesn't replace the professional judgement of inspectors Inspectors interpret grade descriptors according to pupils' age, stage

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