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Last reviewed on 15 September 2021
Ref: 12540
School types: All · School phases: All

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.

KeyDoc: Ofsted grade descriptors – side-by-side comparison

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)

Grade descriptors are not a checklist

See paragraph 182 of

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