Ofsted: latest updates

Stay up to date with all things Ofsted.

updated on 7 February 2024
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Contents
  1. 7 February 2024: having RAAC in your buildings is sufficient grounds to defer an inspection
  2. 19 January 2024: Ofsted inspection handbook updated for 2024
  3. 5 January 2024: Ofsted inspections to begin from 22 January
  4. 2 January 2024: Ofsted delays start of spring term inspections
  5. 8 December 2023: Ofsted delaying inspections on 11-15 December by 1 day
  6. 13 September 2023: Ofsted won't inspect schools affected by RAAC
  7. 31 August 2023: potential impact of RAAC on inspections
  8. 18 July 2023: Ofsted School Inspection Handbook updated for 2023
  9. 13 June 2023: Ofsted is making changes to inspections
  10. Older updates: what you may have missed from 2022

Don't miss out

We update this article whenever we hear something new. Select 'save for later' at the top of this article and we'll let you know when it's been updated.

For previous updates, see the bottom of this article. 

7 February 2024: having RAAC in your buildings is sufficient grounds to defer an inspection

These schools are eligible for inspection this term – but having RAAC in some of your buildings will be sufficient grounds to defer an inspection, should you wish to.

Ofsted will also consider requests for deferral made by schools that don't have confirmed RAAC in their buildings, but are still affected in some way (e.g. if you're temporarily hosting pupils from a school with RAAC).

In cases where Ofsted has concerns about a school, it may send inspectors regardless of the school's situation with RAAC. 

See Ofsted's statement for schools affected by RAAC

19 January 2024: Ofsted inspection handbook updated for 2024

This comes in response to the coroner's report following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. There are no new requirements for schools. 

The key changes include:

  • Updates on how to raise a concern during inspection
  • Clarifications on making a deferral
  • Updated guidance on bringing colleagues to meetings with inspectors
  • New guidance on pausing an inspection once it has begun

For more details, see our summary of the updated handbook.

5 January 2024: Ofsted inspections to begin from 22 January

This comes after a delay to inspections at the start of the year, to allow inspectors to receive initial training on mental health awareness (see update below).

On 19 January, Ofsted will respond to the coroner's inquest into the death of Ruth Perry last year.

For more details, see this press release from Ofsted.

2 January 2024: Ofsted delays start of spring term inspections

Routine inspections will start later in January as the new chief inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, responds to the coroner's inquest into the death of Ruth Perry last year.

The later start will allow Ofsted time to give all inspectors initial training on mental health awareness. For more details, read the press release from Ofsted.

8 December 2023: Ofsted delaying inspections on 11-15 December by 1 day

All inspections for the week starting Monday 11 December will be delayed by 1 day, following the coroner's inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. This is to allow Ofsted to bring all lead inspectors together before further inspections. 

Starting from next week, Ofsted will also give all schools a number to call if they have concerns about their inspection.

We're expecting an update to the School Inspection Handbook to include information or more clarity on:

  • How leaders can be accompanied by a colleague during meetings with inspectors
  • Who leaders can share inspection outcomes with, before they're shared with parents

For more details, read the statement from Amanda Spielman following the coroner's verdict.

We'll update our step-by-step guide to a graded Ofsted inspection once Ofsted updates the School Inspection Handbook.

13 September 2023: Ofsted won't inspect schools affected by RAAC

Schools on the list of education settings affected by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) will not be inspected this term. 

Ofsted has updated its deferrals guidance for schools not on the list, but still affected (e.g. those schools taking on pupils from schools on the list above). 

The announcement also makes clear that where Ofsted has concerns about a school, it may send inspectors regardless of the school's situation with RAAC.

31 August 2023: potential impact of RAAC on inspections

If your school is experiencing disruption due to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) and you are notified of an inspection, you should contact the lead inspector at Ofsted and discuss your deferral options under the heading of ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The DfE is working closely with Ofsted to share information about this issue and it will be taken into account when scheduling inspections.

This is outlined in the DfE's latest guidance on RAAC (page 13).

18 July 2023: Ofsted School Inspection Handbook updated for 2023

There are a number of changes and clarifications, including the reforms we were already expecting from 13 June 2023 (see below). The updated handbook comes into force from 1 September 2023.

Get up to speed with what's new this year.

13 June 2023: Ofsted is making changes to inspections

Ofsted has not announced a major overhaul, but it has outlined the following reforms:

Respond to Ofsted's consultation on its complaints process

Ofsted is launching a formal consultation on changes to its complaints system.

This is to:

  • Resolve complaints made by schools more quickly, by improving dialogue
  • Reduce the administrative burden on those making a complaint 
  • Increase transparency in the process

Respond to the consultation here.

The consultation closes on 15 September 2023.

Ofsted will tweak how it handles safeguarding issues

Ofsted has announced 2 changes:

  1. For schools that are graded 'inadequate' because of safeguarding issues alone:
    • Ofsted will follow up with a monitoring visit within 3 months, so the school has an earlier opportunity to be re-graded
    • If the school has resolved the concerns by the monitoring visit, it's likely to be given an improved grade
    • Any academy order or warning notice can be revoked if the school has dealt with safeguarding concerns successfully 
      • If a school receives an academy order or warning notice after being graded 'inadequate', no action will be taken on it until re-inspection
      • If the school has improved, the secretary of state may revoke the order or withdraw the warning notice
  2. Safeguarding requirements will be made as clear as possible for schools and parents
    • Ofsted will offer more clarity in its inspection handbook about the threshold for effective vs ineffective safeguarding, and will train its inspectors in this. It will also use webinars and blogs to communicate this to you
    • Inspection reports will describe any ineffective safeguarding inspectors have found "more clearly" 

More clarity on when you're likely to be inspected 

You'll still only get 1 day's notice of an inspection, but Ofsted has made it clear by what year and month you're likely to be inspected. 

Use Ofsted's published timetables to get an idea of when to expect inspection. This information will be included in the inspection handbook from September 2023.

Reports will be less focused on individuals

Ofsted reports will:

  • Explain what the school needs to do (rather than an individual), by default
  • Have an updated contextual information section which lists all of those with responsibility for the school

Headteachers can share provisional outcomes with colleagues

Ofsted will clarify that headteachers can share provisional inspection outcomes with colleagues and governors. It will update cover letters on draft reports to make this clear.

Staff will also be allowed to choose to be accompanied by a colleague when they talk to inspectors (with a few exceptions).

'Outstanding' schools: get access to seminars from Ofsted

Ofsted recognises that many leaders in formerly exempt schools haven't experienced inspection for a long time, and may be worried about what to expect.

Ofsted is holding small-group, face-to-face seminars for all 'outstanding' schools inspected before September 2015.

The DfE's expanding the school leader wellbeing service

The DfE plans to double the support programme offered through the government-funded teacher wellbeing charity Education Support, to support an additional 500 heads by March 2024. 

It also commits to further expand its mental health and wellbeing offer beyond that date.

 

When do these changes come into force?

Ofsted has explained that the above changes will be implemented either: 

  • Immediately (or are already being implemented), or
  • From September 2023

Ofsted is not changing the 1-word rating system

Ofsted’s blog says the department believes this is still the clearest way to give parents the confidence to choose the right school for their child.

Older updates: what you may have missed from 2022

2022 updates

11 July 2022: Ofsted to end curriculum 'transitional arrangements' from September, and other handbook changes

Ofsted will end the transitional arrangements that are currently in place to help schools transition to the 2019 inspection framework. These arrangements affected how inspectors made judgements about quality of education. 

The new inspection handbooks, which come into force in September, still allow inspectors to consider the work you're doing to redevelop or improve your curriculum, and will judge intent favourably if you have an "accurate, evaluative" understanding of current curriculum practice in your school and have identified appropriate next steps.

Other changes to the inspection handbooks include:

  • Incorporating guidance about the impact of COVID-19 throughout (the guidance isn't new, but it no longer sits in a dedicated section)
  • Changes to terminology:
    • Section 5 inspections are now 'graded inspections'
    • Section 8 inspections of 'good' and 'outstanding' schools are now 'ungraded inspections'
    • Inspections with no formal designation and unannounced behaviour visits are now 'urgent inspections'
    • Fixed-term exclusions are now called 'suspensions', in line with other DfE guidance

The rest of the changes are to format or structure.

You can see a full summary of changes to the handbooks here.

13 June 2022: Ofsted and CQC launch consultation on new area SEND framework

The consultation looks at proposed changes to the way Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspect area special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) arrangements from 2023. 

Both consultations are open until 11.45pm on 11 September 2022.

26 April 2022: Ofsted announces strategy for 2022 to 2027

The new strategy builds on Ofsted's previous emphasis on the curriculum and pupils' learning, and takes the impact of the pandemic into account.

Headlines include:

  • Allowing more time to gather evidence during inspections
  • Evaluating the performance of its inspection frameworks, including the education inspection framework (EIF)
  • A stronger focus on early years
  • A tougher stance on safeguarding and pupil welfare, including unregistered settings and harmful sexual behaviour
  • MAT inspections and more summary evaluations
  • More research and analysis, including into MATs and alternative provision (AP)
  • Reaching out to the wider society, including those who might not be as familiar with Ofsted's work
  • Diversifying and expanding its workforce, including developing a knowledge of MATs

Read Ofsted's strategy for 2022-27 for more detail.

28 March 2022: DfE launches consultation on supporting schools not making necessary improvements

What is the consultation on?

The DfE proposes to introduce a new intervention measure from September 2022, which would give the secretary of state the power to move schools into strong trusts, to help them improve. The academy orders would be decided by regional directors (RDs) on a case-by-case basis.

Which schools would it apply to?

The measure would apply to schools:

  • With between 2 and 4 consecutive Ofsted judgements below ‘good’ (if they have received their most recent section 5 Ofsted inspection since 1 May 2021)
  • With 5 or more consecutive Ofsted judgements below ‘good’ regardless of when their last section 5 Ofsted inspection took place
  • Located in the new Education Investment Areas (EIAs), initially (however, it could also apply to some schools outside of EIAs, under an RD's discretion)
  • That are:
    • Mainstream local authority (LA) maintained primary, middle and secondary schools, and academies (excluding 16 to 19 academies)
    • Maintained special schools, special academies, pupil referral units (PRUs) and AP academies

When is the consultation open until?

17 November 2021: Ofsted to inspect all schools by summer 2025

  • Previously, it would have taken Ofsted until 1 August 2026 to complete all school and college inspections
  • Beginning with last term’s inspections, all schools and colleges will now receive at least 1 inspection by summer 2025
  • The acceleration of inspections won’t start until September 2022, as Ofsted has "pretty much fixed" its inspection schedule for this year, Ofsted's chief inspector Amanda Spielman confirmed
  • Schools will continue to receive either graded or ungraded inspections depending on your circumstances, as you do now
  • Read more here

22 September 2021: Ofsted will review tutoring and teachers’ professional development

The independent reviews will:

  • Focus on 2 key catch-up reforms: tutoring and teachers' professional development
  • Investigate how the reforms are helping with education recovery following disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic

Tutoring in schools, and 16 to 19 providers

Ofsted will look at:

  • How schools identify the need for tutoring
  • The suitability of tutors
  • How tutoring aligns with the intended curriculum
  • The implementation and impact of tutoring
  • How tutoring affects the school

It will do this through:

  • Visiting a sample of schools to carry out interviews, focus groups and observations of tutoring
  • Interviews with leadership and management teams of some National Tutoring Programme (NTP) tuition partners
  • Pupil and parent surveys 

Ofsted will publish the findings in summer 2022 and summer 2023.

Teachers' professional development

Ofsted will look at:

  • What training and professional development teachers and leaders are receiving
  • How professional development is managed
  • Teachers' and leaders' awareness of professional development
  • The quality and impact of professional development

It will do this through:

  • Large-scale questionnaires in autumn 2021 and 2022
  • Research visits to schools in spring term 2022 and 2023
  • A small-scale teacher cohort study throughout the duration of the review
  • Data from early career framework (ECF) / national professional qualification (NPQ) monitoring inspections, beginning summer term 2022

Ofsted will publish the findings in early 2023 and early 2024.

   

Article updates

7 February 2024

We updated this article to reflect Ofsted's statement on schools affected by RAAC in the spring term. 

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