Ofsted has released its consultation response on the proposed changes to the inspection frameworks from September 2019. This article summarises Ofsted’s response, highlighting the key proposals that have been confirmed, amended or dropped.  


Confirmed – the introduction of a ‘quality of education’ judgement


A new ‘quality of education’ judgement focussing on the curriculum will be introduced from September 2019 – this judgement will replace the ‘outcomes for pupils’ judgement.

To allow schools to review their curriculum should they want to, Ofsted will phase in the ‘intent’ grade descriptors in the judgement – this applies to all inspections apart from early years. During the phase-in, the judgement will not be negatively affected if it is clear to an inspector that leaders have a plan for updating the curriculum and are taking genuine action to do so. This transitional phase will be reviewed in Summer 2020.


Confirmed – separate judgements for ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’


Separate judgements on learners’ ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ will be introduced from September 2019.

Some amendments have been made to the judgement criteria:

  • Clarifying amendments have been made to the ‘behaviour and attitudes’ grade criteria to better reflect the realities of providers working in challenging circumstances.
  • The absence of bullying is no longer focussed on – instead, emphasis is now placed on whether or not providers tolerate bullying and how swiftly and effectively they take action if issues occur.
  • Changes have been made to the ‘personal development’ grade criteria to allow inspectors to properly recognise the importance of high-quality pastoral support. 


Amended – increasing the length of section 8 inspections


The length of section 8 (short inspections) for ‘good’ or non-exempt schools will extend to two days in most cases. Following concerns regarding the impact of increasing the length on small schools, schools with 150 or fewer pupils on roll will continue to receive a one-day inspection.


Dropped – on-site preparation


There was overwhelming opposition to Ofsted’s proposal to introduce on-site preparation – because of this, Ofsted will not introduce on-site preparation for section 5 and section 8 inspections.

Instead, a new 90-minute phone call will be introduced between the lead inspector and headteacher on the afternoon before the inspection begins.


Confirmed – internal data will not be looked at


Ofsted will proceed with the proposal for inspectors to not look at non-statutory internal progress and attainment data during inspections.

Some concerns were raised about the proposal – in response, Ofsted has made some amendments and clarifications to the inspection handbooks:

  • Inspectors will consider the actions taken by schools in response to whatever internal assessment information they have – they will review the impact of the actions without reviewing the assessment data itself.
  • Inspectors will only ever use published performance data as a starting point – as a result, schools without published data will not be at a disadvantage.
  • Inspectors will look at nationally-generated performance data in the context of a school – e.g. if a school is in the process of improving from a low point, their data will be viewed in the context of a ‘school in turnaround’.
  • For FE and skills providers, inspectors will not look at internal progress and attainment data on GCSE and A-level courses when fixed-time terminal exams comprise the entire assessment of the course.

The handbooks have been amended to better reflect the intention of the proposal and how it will work in practice. Ofsted has also clarified how inspectors will use the sources of evidence and the range of inspection activities to gather evidence and arrive at judgements.


Amended – how the framework applies to some early years providers


In the consultation, Ofsted outlined its intention to ensure that the 2019 inspection judgements were going to be appropriate for the range of early years settings.  

The new framework will be applied to the inspection of all childminders and childcare providers on both domestic and non-domestic premises; however, the ‘quality of education’ judgement will not apply to providers who only provide care for children at the beginning and end of the school day or in holiday periods. All judgements will apply to all other early years providers.


Proposals for other providers


Non-association independent schools


  • The inspection handbook has been updated to clarify that, in schools offering a specialist curriculum or taking a distinct approach to the curriculum (e.g. Steiner schools), inspectors will work with leaders to understand how the curriculum as a whole is structured and where they can find evidence that the ‘quality of education’ criteria are shown. Ofsted expects that, in many schools, much of the evidence in support of the ‘quality of education’ criteria will be drawn from the non-specialist curriculum.
  • Ofsted will evaluate a school’s entire provision, including specialist provision, when assessing compliance with the independent school standards and when reaching judgements about ‘overall effectiveness’, ‘behaviour and attitudes’, ‘personal development’, and ‘leadership and management’.
  • The handbook has been updated to clarify that the section on the specialist curriculum does not describe the approach that will be taken to inspect independent special schools.
  • Ofsted will proceed with the proposal to provide up-to-date judgements about a school’s performance when it is found to have improved or declined at an additional inspection – this change will be implemented from September 2020.


FE and skills providers


  • From September 2019, Ofsted will grade four provision types rather than six – these will be education programmes for young people, apprenticeships, adult learning programmes, and provision for learners who have high needs.
  • Common areas of focus will be introduced for all short inspections.
  • On-site preparation will not be implemented.
  • The timescale within which providers that are judged to ‘require improvement’ receive their next full inspection will be extended from 12 to 24 months to 12 to 30 months.


Recurring themes in response


Ofsted also highlighted and addressed several recurring themes found in the free-text comments submitted by respondents. As a result of these comments, Ofsted has confirmed that inspectors will:

  • Consider whether education providers have a system in place for ensuring that pupils who fall behind their peers get the additional support they need to succeed.
  • Look at whether reasonable adjustments have been made for pupils with SEND.
  • Take into account the complex vulnerabilities and additional safeguarding challenges that pupils with SEND can face.
  • Not accept lowering expectations for pupils with SEND.
  • Expect that good schools should be able to show improvement in the behaviour and attendance of pupils who have particular needs.
  • Ask school leaders whether they are aware of the EBacc ambition and what they are doing to work towards it.
  • Ask schools to provide records and analysis of exclusions, pupils taken off roll, incidents of poor behaviour and any use of internal isolation.


What’s next?


Alongside the consultation response, the final drafts of the inspection handbooks have been published:

These handbooks set out how Ofsted will inspect in line with changes to its framework in different contexts.

Keep an eye on the ‘New & updated’ list on our homepage – we will be publishing resources relating to the new inspection handbooks shortly!




Ofsted (2019) ‘Education inspection framework 2019: a report on the responses to the consultation’ <https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/education-inspection-framework-2019-inspecting-the-substance-of-education> [Accessed: 14 May 2019]