Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sian Hewitt and Nuray Bulbul

What is Ofsted? Educational charity wants nursery inspections to be reviewed

The Early Years Alliance charity, which advocates for nurseries, preschools, and childminders, wants the inspection results from Ofsted to be reviewed.

The inspection process for nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders is different from that for schools, but they all obtain the same total grade.

The charity found that many schools found inspections to be stressful, according to their survey on early years’ staff.

The survey found that 1,586 out of 1,708 surveyed staff said inspections were a source of stress “sometimes” or “often”. While 1,227 out of 1,601 would remove the single-word grading.

Ofsted says they want inspections to be “as constructive as possible” and noted that “inspections can be challenging”.

This comes after the schools’ watchdog refused to drop one-word ratings despite calls for inspection reforms following the death of a headteacher.

Critics say the one-word ratings are too simplistic, while The National Education Union (NEU) called for the grading system to be replaced with a “supportive, effective and fair” accountability system.

Ruth Perry, the former headteacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading, took her own life while waiting for the publication of a report into her school that was expected to downgrade it from “outstanding” to “inadequate”.

Ms Perry’s family said the 53-year-old had described the inspection in November as the worst day of her life.

So what is Oftsed and what does it do? Here’s all you need to know.

What is Ofsted?

Ofsted is short for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The body inspects services that provide education or skills trainers for students regardless of their age.

It also inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people such as children’s homes.

What is its role?

Ofsted inspectors go and view services under their remit and provide a rating dependent on what they find on their visit.

They are legally allowed to arrive with little notice to services. They report directly to Parliament, parents, carers and commissioners.

Ofsted is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government, although its ethos is to be “independent and impartial”.

What ratings can it give?

In each area, services are graded and then placed into one of four categories: Grade one (outstanding), grade two (good), grade three (requires improvement) and grade four (inadequate).

Can Ofsted fire a headteacher?

No. Ofsted has no power to fire a headteacher and it does not instruct governing bodies to do so either.

Are Ofsted inspections compulsory?

Yes. All childcare providers caring for children from September 1 following their fifth birthday up to the age of 8, must register with Ofsted on the Compulsory Childcare Register (CCR)

How often does a school get an Ofsted inspection?

Ofsted inspections can take place at any point from five school days after the first day pupils attend in the autumn term.

Schools are normally judged every four years, but a lot can depend on the type of institution and the previous grading the school received.

If there was a previous “inadequate” or “requires improvement” grading, inspectors can visit more frequently.

Can Ofsted shut a school down?

Yes, but after a lengthy process. For any service that has been judged as inadequate and placed in a category of concern, inspectors will visit the academy to check on its progress until it can be removed from the category.

Schools placed in a “special measures” category will have two years to turn things around, while serious weaknesses schools have 18 months.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.