Ofsted inspection: curriculum FAQs for small schools, special schools, PRUs and AP settings

Not sure how the 2019 framework applies to your setting? Get answers to frequently asked questions about curriculum inspection in schools like yours.

Last reviewed on 10 March 2022
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 39160
  1. How does Ofsted decide which deep dives to do?
  2. We're an all-through school. Will Ofsted do the same deep dives in our primary and secondary phases?
  3. Multi-site pupil referral units/AP academies: will Ofsted inspect the curriculum across bases or is it base-specific?
  4. Special schools are more likely to create personalised curricula or have pre-subject learners. Does Ofsted take this into account?
  5. How will Ofsted inspect the curriculum in short-term schools?
  6. Can headteachers join deep dive meetings with subject leaders?
  7. Can we show inspectors our internal assessment data even if they don't ask for it?
  8. Some schools struggle to recruit subject specialists. Does Ofsted take this into account?
  9. In small schools, staff may lead multiple subjects. Does Ofsted consider this?
  10. What if we don't have a subject leader for each subject?
  11. What's the difference between the initial phone call in a section 8 inspection vs a section 5?
  12. What if Ofsted picks a deep dive subject for which there aren't enough timetabled lessons on a given day?

We spoke to representatives at Ofsted and interviewed recently-inspected school leaders to answer these questions. 

How does Ofsted decide which deep dives to do?

Through looking at a combination of all the information it has about your school, including:

  • Your national performance data (such as Key Stage (KS) 2 SATs)
  • Information in the inspection data summary report (IDSR)
  • Curriculum information on your website
  • Relevant comments in your last inspection report

Inspectors will want to see a wide range of subjects, and will go for both your strong subjects and those that are still developing.

They'll also use the initial phone call with the headteacher (or other senior leader) to help them decide which deep dives to do. 

This means you might be able to influence which deep dives take place!

Always have a reading deep dive Always have a deep dive in 1 or more foundation subjects Often have a maths deep