Inspection provides an independent, external evaluation of the quality of provision and standards achieved in a school, and a diagnosis of what it should do to improve, based upon a range of evidence. It ensures a measure of accountability and promotes the improvement of individual schools and the education system as a whole.

Inspection reports present a written commentary on the outcomes achieved and the quality of provision (especially the quality of teaching and its impact on learning), the effectiveness of leadership and management and the school’s capacity for sustained improvement. They are also useful to parents in informing their choice about the school they wish their child to attend.

The primary purpose of inspection is to bring about improvement in education provision and this has been Ofsted’s mission since it was created. In 2017, Ofsted revised its strategic five-year strategy. The mantra of Raising Standards and Improving Lives was reaffirmed but with a shift in emphasis towards wider personal development and ‘cultural capital’ for individuals and society. In 2021, this five-year strategy comes to an end and progress must be evaluated.

A force for improvement

Ofsted sets out three approaches for continuing to be a force for improvement. These are for it to be:

  • more intelligent: all work will be evidence-led, and evaluation tools and frameworks will be valid and reliable

  • more responsible: frameworks will be fair. Ofsted will seek to reduce inspection burdens and make expectations and findings clear

  • more focused: target time and resources where they can lead directly to improvement.

In the final year of the five-year strategy, this year is about assessing its impact and developing the new strategy.

It espouses three values, set out below.

Our values

Our values guide everything we do. They apply to everyone in Ofsted and all those who work on our behalf. Our values are:

  • children and students first: we have high expectations for every child, regardless of their background. Everything we do as an organisation is in the interests of children and students first

  • independent: whether reporting on a provider, assessing policy outcomes or advising government, we do so without fear or favour

  • accountable and transparent: an organisation that holds others to account must be accountable itself. We are always open to challenge and scrutiny.

Summary of changes made in July 2021

There are two minor amendments to the framework. The first sets out a new expectation that inspectors will agree safety protocols to ensure the inspection is completed in a Covid-secure way. The second highlights that inspection remit handbooks have been updated to reflect the Covid-19 context that education providers are operating in and the disruption the pandemic has caused to them.

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