Last reviewed on 11 March 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 12540

Use our side-by-side comparison of Ofsted grade descriptors, which reflect the September 2021 School Inspection Handbook updates, to understand the criteria inspectors use to make their judgements.

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 section 5 school inspections.

Ofsted updated its inspection handbook in September 2021, which included some minor changes to grade descriptors. We've marked the additions in red in our download to make it easier for you to see the changes.

Ofsted updated parts of its inspection handbook in February 2022. The grade descriptors were not affected, but the paragraph numbers were. We’ve updated our comparison document to reflect this.

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