Ofsted has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to its inspection frameworks from September 2019.

The consultation comes in two parts:

  • The first part sets out the proposed changes to ‘The education inspection framework’ – this will apply to all education inspections.
  • The second part sets out proposals specific to different phases of education and school types.

This article outlines the proposals and the areas that will be given greater emphasis in the frameworks.  


Draft frameworks


Alongside the consultation, a draft version of ‘The education inspection framework’ has been published.

Ofsted has also published draft inspection handbooks for:

  • Maintained schools and academies (the ‘School inspection handbook’).
  • The early years.
  • FE and skills providers.
  • Non-association independent schools.

As these documents have been published in draft form and are subject to change – they should be used at this stage to help you reach informed decisions when responding to the consultation.


Areas with greater emphasis


Most of the individual inspection criteria that make up the inspection judgements in the new frameworks build directly on the existing framework – but changes have been made in terms of what has been emphasised.

Following Ofsted’s extensive research into the curriculum, the curriculum has a far more central place within all the frameworks and has been placed at the heart of the new ‘quality of education judgement’. Ofsted will judge different approaches to the curriculum fairly to support the importance of schools having the freedom to design their own approach.

Greater focus has also been placed on workload – the new frameworks aim to reduce inspection pressures on staff through a variety of different ways, such as removing the ‘outcomes’ judgement.

Learners’ access to education will also be more sharply looked at – this follows widespread debate in the sector regarding the practice of off-rolling. Ofsted wants its inspections to contribute to an inclusive education system that can accommodate the needs of all learners.

Ofsted has recognised that pupils’ development extends beyond their academic, vocational or technical achievements. Greater focus will be put on pupils’ personal development and behaviour by separating the current ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ into two separate judgements, so the two areas can be evaluated in their own right.  


Proposals for the overall framework


The proposed changes for ‘The education inspection framework’ will apply to all inspections.


The ‘quality of education’ judgement


Ofsted has proposed the introduction of a new ‘quality of education’ judgement that is built around its definition of the curriculum – the judgement will focus on providers’ educational intent, implementation and impact.

This new judgement will replace the current ‘outcomes’ judgement. When reaching the quality of education judgement, inspectors will continue to look at pupils’ outcomes; however, they will focus more on what is taught and how. The judgement that is reached will be education-focussed, rather than data-focussed.

This approach aims to de-intensify the inspection focus on performance data and place more emphasis on the substance of education and what matters most to pupils and schools.


Separate judgments for ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’ 


Under the current framework, inspectors reach a single judgement on ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ – this judgement will be separated into ‘personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’ under the proposals. The aim of this is to enhance the inspection focus on each judgment and enable clearer reporting on both.

In making a judgement about pupils’ personal development under the new framework, inspectors will seek to evaluate the intent and quality of what a provider offers, but will not attempt to measure the impact of the provider’s work on the lives of individual learners.


Proposals for maintained schools and academies


The length of short inspections


Currently, short inspections of ‘good’ schools last for one day. To ensure that there is an opportunity to gather sufficient evidence to confirm that a school remains good under the new criteria, Ofsted is proposing to increase the time inspectors are on site to two days.


On-site inspector preparation


Ofsted is proposing to introduce on-site inspector preparation for all section 5 and section 8 inspections – this preparation is currently carried out remotely.

Under the plans, Ofsted would provide formal notification of an inspection no later than 10:00am on the day before the inspection – the lead inspector would then arrive at the school no earlier than 12:30pm on the day of the notification call. This time will be used for the lead inspector to talk with senior leaders to gain an overview of the school’s recent performance and any changes since their last inspection. Inspectors would leave the school premises by no later than 5:00pm on the day before the inspection starts.


Use of internal performance data


To limit the workload placed on schools, Ofsted is proposing that inspectors will not use schools’ internal performance data for current pupils as evidence during an inspection.

Inspectors will ask schools:

  • To explain why they have decided to collect whatever assessment information they collect.
  • What they are drawing from this assessment data.
  • How the assessment data informs their curriculum and teaching.


Proposals for other providers 


A number of proposals have also been made that are specific to early years providers, non-association and independent schools, and FE and skills providers.


Early years


A greater emphasis will be placed on the curriculum during inspections of providers registered on the Early Years Register.

Ofsted wants to ensure that the 2019 inspection judgements are appropriate for the range of early years settings.


Non-association independent schools


Ofsted has made proposals in relation to:

  • Assessing a school’s entire provision alongside the specialist curriculum, to ensure pupils study a broad and rich curriculum, when reaching a judgement about the quality of education.
  • Recognising the outcomes of progress monitoring and emergency inspections sooner where schools have improved or declined.


FE and skills providers


The following proposals have been made:

  • Condensing down the number of provision types Ofsted grades and reports on to the following areas – education programmes for young people, apprenticeships and adult learning.
  • Changing the approach of short inspections from investigating different lines of enquiry for each provider, to focussing on the quality of education and training, safeguarding and effective management for all providers.
  • Extending the timescale within which providers judged as ‘requires improvement’ are inspected from “normally 12 to 24 months” after the last inspection to “normally 12 to 30 months”.


What’s next?


  • Read the full consultation document here.
  • Make sure you look through the draft versions of the education inspection framework and other draft handbooks before you respond.
  • You can register your views on the proposals until 5 April 2019 – find out the different ways you can respond to the consultation here.
  • Responses will be considered carefully before Ofsted finalises and publishes the frameworks in Summer 2019.




Ofsted (2018) ‘Education inspection framework 2019: inspecting the substance of education’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/education-inspection-framework-2019-inspecting-the-substance-of-education/education-inspection-framework-2019-inspecting-the-substance-of-education> [Accessed: 16 January 2019]