New approaches to inspection


Apprenticeship providers


To ensure the quality of apprenticeships being provided, Ofsted has introduced a new type of monitoring visit for providers receiving apprenticeship levy funding that have not previously been inspected. These visits allow inspectors to judge whether providers are making ‘significant’, ‘reasonable’ or ‘insufficient’ progress in specific areas. Through these visits, Ofsted can highlight any early problems and determine where action is needed.

In response to feedback from the sector, Ofsted has also increased its inspection focus on subcontractors (the majority of which are providing apprenticeships), allowing it to evaluate the quality of training from a learner’s perspective.




MATs usually take responsibility for making significant decisions at the academies in their trust; however, Ofsted is unable to inspect them directly, meaning that parents and the government are missing out on valuable information. Within the limitations of its existing powers, Ofsted has made changes allowing it to better understand and review quality across MATs.

In December 2018, following some targeted piloting and inspector training, Ofsted will be introducing MAT summary evaluations – groups of schools in an MAT will continue to be inspected when they are due to be, and these will be carried out across one or two terms rather than a single week. Evaluations will be conducted of MATs with the trust’s leaders once all inspections have been completed and the reports have been published – this offers leaders more time and opportunity for reflection.

Ofsted will be looking at high-performing MATs and those where it might have concerns, to ensure a balanced picture of quality is provided.


New inspection frameworks


The new education inspection framework (EIF) will be used to rebalance inspections to take more account of what is being taught in schools. It will reward education settings that are doing the right thing by their pupils and providing rigorous education to all. The EIF will also move the focus away from progress data, subjective tracking of pupils’ scores and the workload these create for staff. A consultation will be held on the new EIF in January 2019.




Ofsted’s current ITT inspection framework focusses on the outcomes achieved by ITT providers; the inspectorate now intends to evolve the focus of its inspections. Over the next year, Ofsted will conduct research and talk to ITT partnerships to develop the next ITT framework. This will be launched in early 2020, after the new EIF is launched in September 2019.

While maintaining a focus on outcomes, Ofsted will ensure that trainee teachers are prepared to provide pupils with the knowledge they need to flourish in life. The current ITT framework has been extended for another year.


Key findings


Literacy is the key to success


Children with poor literacy do worse at school, young adults with poor literacy struggle to get the best jobs, and parents with poor literacy are less well equipped to help their own children. Not all children start at the same place – 28 percent of children leave Reception without at least the expected levels of communication, language and literacy. The schools that understand this both read to children and teach phonics well, and help children whose parents have poor literacy, who start school with poor vocabulary, and who find learning to read difficult.

Ofsted intends to strengthen its focus on the inspection of reading as results from recent inspections have revealed that some schools are not teaching phonics and reading successfully. If this continues over the next few months, the new EIF will place a strong focus on the teaching of reading to the lowest 20 percent of pupils.


Continued lack of coordinated SEND provision


Ofsted has seen a continuing lack of coordinated 0-25 strategies and poor post-19 provision. There has also been an increase in exclusions of pupils with SEND, a lack of support for mental health needs, and a high number of children with autism waiting up to two years to be diagnosed. The quality of EHC plans in place is variable within local areas across the country; as a result of those that have not been implemented successfully, the gap in outcomes for children with SEND continues to widen.


Too many children attend ‘stuck’ schools


Ofsted has identified around 490 ‘stuck’ schools, meaning that around 1 in 6 of the schools that are currently at ‘require improvements’ or are ‘inadequate’ have been stuck in a cycle of weak inspection outcomes since 2005. Ofsted wants more ‘outstanding’ schools and school leaders to help these schools and the inspectorate will work with the DfE to look at schools that are stuck and what they can do to improve.


Impact of reduction in LA funding


Though statutory social care services have been largely locally protected, Ofsted has found that funding in other areas, such as preventative and wider children’s services, is leaving LAs unable to intervene early enough when young people need help. LAs have also reported unsustainable budget pressures in both adult and children’s social care.


Children in unregistered schools are denied the education they’re entitled to


Ofsted has raised concerns about pupils who are educated in unregistered settings that can avoid the scrutiny of safeguarding practices and assessments of the quality of education. Children in these settings can also be at risk of radicalisation, due to the setting being operated by those with fundamentalist religious beliefs.

The first successful prosecution of an unregistered school led to convictions in October 2018; however, Ofsted believes that legislation should be strengthened so that these settings can be closed.


Performance of independent schools remains a cause for concern


Ofsted expressed its concerns that too many non-association independent schools have been inadequate for too long, resulting in many pupils spending significant parts of their education in schools where they are unsafe or not learning well. Many of these schools do not have the capacity to improve and, when they do improve, may subsequently fall back, leading to a recurring cycle of underperformance. Ofsted welcomes the DfE’s decision to consider legislation to strengthen the regulatory regime in relation to schools in this position.


Some schools have not been inspected in over a decade


The continuing exemption from inspection for schools judged as outstanding means that some schools have not been inspected in over a decade. This leaves inspectors with “blind spots” regarding the quality of education and safeguarding in these schools. Some issues with outstanding schools will present themselves in performance data; however, others, such as curriculum narrowing or poor safeguarding practices, will not.

Ofsted stated that the outstanding grade “should be a symbol that a school is a beacon of excellence” – to maintain this reputation, the exemption should be removed, and Ofsted fully resourced to inspect these schools.

The DfE has recently written to Ofsted asking for it to review its risk assessment arrangements and ensure that it inspects 10 percent of outstanding schools and colleges over the next year – this should include settings where risk assessments have indicated possible “concerns”, but can also include those where “best practice is likely to be found”.


High number of schools with ‘exceptional levels’ of off-rolled pupils


This year, Ofsted has investigated potential off-rolling to help it better understand the schools and pupils that are affected, identify schools in which this could be an issue, and take action to tackle the problem. The inspectorate found that around 19,000 pupils did not progress from Year 10 to Year 11 in the same maintained schools – the destinations of 9,700 of these pupils is unclear as they did not reappear in another maintained school.

The new EIF will allow Ofsted to identify and report on the schools that off-roll pupils who do not achieve as well as their peers. The proposed changes will make it easier to recognise and reward good work done by schools for all pupils – this shift in focus (away from performance measures in isolation) will empower schools to put the pupils first.


Future plans


Ofsted will seek to explore many themes discussed in the report further, over the next year, with a focus on proven effective improvement measures. Its research programme will investigate:

  • Practices that reduce workload and improve wellbeing.
  • Practices that are being used to manage challenging behaviour and its consequences.
  • How schools with a declared faith handle potential conflicts between equality legislation and how they teach their beliefs.
  • Physical development in the early years curriculum.
  • The 16-19 curriculum.
  • Curriculum knowledge and pedagogy in ITT.
  • The factors that lead to good decisions for children in, or at risk of being in, care.
  • Creating environments in which great social practice will thrive.
  • Joint targeted area inspections, focussing on familial sexual abuse.
  • SEND in mainstream schools.

Ofsted will consult on its new EIF in January 2019, proposing that the framework consists of the following four judgement areas: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management. Consultations will also be held on the handbooks for each of Ofsted’s individual remits, to provide the sector with the opportunity to shape the future of inspection.

The new framework is being piloted throughout the 2018 Autumn term to July 2019 – the new framework will be implemented from September 2019, subject to the results of the consultation.


What’s next?


  • You can read Ofsted’s full report here.
  • Visit our Ofsted and inspection category for more resources on Ofsted’s key focusses and advice from our expert.




Ofsted (2018) ‘The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18’