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For previous updates, see the bottom of this article. 

Latest Ofsted news

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.

Previous updates

20 January 2022: Ofsted aims to have a full team of inspectors again from 31 January

  • School leaders who are also inspectors were temporarily relieved of their inspecting duties from the start of January, to focus on the return to school after the Christmas break 
  • From 31 January, Ofsted will have its full team of inspectors to call on again
  • If you're a school leader, you'll still get to decide whether to offer your service to Ofsted, as has always been the case
  • Additionally, Ofsted's deferral policy remains in place (see the update below for more detail)
  • You should have received an email about this. If not, read more in this Schools Week article

4 January 2022: Ofsted encourages "significantly impacted" schools to request deferrals

  • If your school is significantly impacted by COVID-related staff absence, you can ask to defer your inspection. Read more about Ofsted's clarification on deferrals in our 2 December 2021 update below
  • Additionally, if you're a school leader who is also an Ofsted inspector, Ofsted won't ask you to carry out inspections for a temporary period from the start of January
  • You should have received an email from the DfE about this

9 December 2021: inspections cancelled next week

  • Inspections have been cancelled by Ofsted for the week beginning 13th December, so schools can focus on putting in place Omicron contingency measures for January. You'll only be inspected if Ofsted has safeguarding concerns about your school
  • Secondary schools also won't be inspected during the first week of term in January to allow onsite pupil testing to take place, unless there are serious concerns
  • You should have received an email about this. If not, read more in this Schools Week article

2 December 2021: clarification on deferrals during COVID-19

Ofsted has clarified its guidance on deferrals to state that:

  • It's mindful that the challenges and impact of COVID-19 will vary considerably from school to school
  • It recognises that there will be circumstances when it's not the right time for an inspection to go ahead
  • If schools have any concerns about the timing of their inspection or visit, they should request a deferral
  • It judges every request on its own merits, according to the individual, exceptional circumstances relating to COVID-19
  • If you request a deferral, even if it's refused, this won't impact on how Ofsted views your school on inspection

24 November 2021: consultation on Ofsted's role in quality assurance of online education providers

  • Ofsted has launched a consultation seeking views on how it should quality assure full-time online education providers (private organisations and companies that offer online teaching for pupils unable to attend school, or pupils whose parents have privately arranged for it)
  • The consultation will run until 11.45pm on 26 January 2022, and will inform Ofsted's plans and draft handbook before the accreditation scheme launches in 2022
  • Questions are about:
    • Suitability checks, and for which providers
    • Assessing the quality of leadership in online providers
    • Assessing methods of delivering online education
    • Assessing cyber security arrangements in online providers
  • Read more about the accreditation scheme for online education providers and Ofsted's discussion around the need for it

10 June 2021: Ofsted publishes review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges

Ofsted's findings (taken from visits to 32 schools and colleges, and conversations with over 900 pupils) include:

  • For some children, incidents of sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are so common they see no point in reporting them
  • 92% of girls and 74% of boys reported that they or their peers experience sexist name-calling
  • Sexual violence typically occurs in unsupervised spaces outside of school, though some girls also experience unwanted touching in school corridors
  • Children and young people (especially girls) don't want to talk about sexual abuse, even when their school encourages them to
  • Pupils are rarely positive about the RSE they receive

The report includes recommendations for schools, multi-agency safeguarding partners, and the government.

Ofsted says it will:

  • Update inspection handbooks for further education providers to include the same references to peer-on-peer sexual abuse as the current School Inspection Handbook
  • Provide further training for inspectors on inspecting safeguarding in education settings
  • Ask further education providers to supply records and analysis of sexual harassment and violence (this already happens in schools)
  • Hold discussions with single-sex groups of pupils, where this helps understand the approach to tackling sexual harassment and violence in a school or college

19 Apr 2021: updated inspection handbooks and guidance

School Inspection Handbook

The main changes include:

  • References to the pandemic throughout, including the impact on schools and safety measures during inspection
  • A new section on ‘Inspection during the COVID-19 pandemic’ in paragraphs 7 to 37
  • The removal of the outstanding exemption in paragraphs 47 to 56
  • Relationships and sex education in paragraphs in 250 to 255

See Ofsted's summary of all the changes.

Section 8 school inspection handbook

The main changes include:

  • References to the COVID-19 pandemic, including safety measures
  • The removal of the outstanding exemption in paragraphs 1, 4 and 41 to 49
  • New paragraphs (133 and 167) on discussions with the headteacher

See Ofsted's summary of all the changes.

Early years inspection handbook

The main changes include:

  • References to the COVID-19 pandemic, including instances of staff or children self-isolating
  • A new section on ‘Inspection during the COVID-19 pandemic’ in paragraphs 6 to 26
  • The move from inspection cycle to window in paragraphs 27 to 36

See Ofsted's summary of all the changes.

Independent schools inspection handbook

The main changes include:

  • A new section on ‘Inspection during the COVID-19 pandemic’ 
  • Updated sections on ‘Relationships and sex education’ and ‘Inspecting teaching of the protected characteristics’ in light of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
  • Clarification on the impact on judgements if inspectors are prevented from talking to pupils on inspection (in the 'Safeguarding' section from paragraph 292)
  • Removal of the criterion relating to compliance with the independent school standards (ISS) from the overall effectiveness grade descriptors

See Ofsted's summary of all the changes.

Initial teacher education (ITE) inspection framework and handbook

The main changes include:

  • A new section on ‘Inspection during the COVID-19 pandemic’ in paragraphs 40 to 45
  • New references to the point-of-inspection trainee and staff surveys that are introduced under the new framework in paragraphs 77 and 80

See Ofsted's summary of all the changes.

Updated Ofsted guidance

Ofsted has also updated its guidance on routine Ofsted inspections in autumn 2021 for maintained schools and academies to reflect changes made, including:

  • The removal of the 'outstanding' exemption
  • Taking into account the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to schools
  • New timescales: Ofsted will send the draft report to schools within 18 working days of the end of the inspection (previously it was 10 working days); as before, you'll still have 5 working days to comment on the draft; Ofsted will then send the final report within 30 working days of the end of the inspection (previously it was 25 working days)

Ofsted has also updated its guidance on new schools and schools that undergo significant changes to reflect:

  • The removal of the 'outstanding' exemption 
  • That due to disruptions caused by the pandemic, most schools will receive an inspection about a year and a term after it would have otherwise taken place

27 Jan 2021: pupil motivation for remote learning is a 'significant concern', Ofsted study finds

Ofsted has published a report on remote learning, which has found that parents and school leaders are significantly concerned about pupils' motivation and engagement. The report also highlights areas of development for leaders to focus on in the spring term, like feedback and assessment.

Read the full study here.


megaphone icon Article updates
11 July 2022

Added an update about the end of transitional arrangements, and other changes to inspection handbooks

13 June 2022

Added an update about the announcement of the joint consultation from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

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