Press release

Ofsted launches consultation on inspection of independent schools

Plans to ensure that ‘good’ is the only acceptable standard of education provided by non-association independent schools unveiled by Ofsted.


Ofsted’s National Director for Independent Schools, Matthew Coffey HMI launched the consultation on changes to the inspection framework aimed at improving the quality of those independent schools Ofsted inspects.

Matthew Coffey HMI said:

Parents, whatever their circumstances, want their children to access good quality education regardless of where they go to school. This is why we are changing the way we inspect independent schools to bring it in line with our other school inspections. Across the school sector that Ofsted inspects, only ‘good’ will be good enough. Therefore we propose changing the adequate judgement to requires improvement. We believe this change will encourage independent schools to improve more quickly.

All schools in England inspected by Ofsted should be judged in the same way and the same grade descriptors should apply equally to them all. We think this will provide clearer information for parents, carers and placing authorities, and allow them to compare schools more easily.

Currently, the Ofsted framework for schools has the judgements, outstanding, good, adequate and inadequate. This consultation now seeks views on changing the ‘adequate’ grade to ‘requires improvement.’ This grade will signify that even though a school may be meeting all the independent school standards, this is the minimum requirement. A school with this judgement may require improvement in order to become good.

This change will bring the inspection of independent schools in line with that of maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, academies and free schools.

The consultation proposes introducing improvement inspections to independent schools that have been judged requires improvement, with a full re-inspection within two years.

Improvement inspections will become more frequent for schools found to be inadequate. It is intended that improvement inspections should be undertaken for independent schools judged as requires improvement from September 2014 onwards before they are re-inspected in order to challenge them to improve to good. We may pilot these arrangements.

The consultation opens today, Wednesday 18 December, and will close on the 21 February 2014.

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation document is online.

  2. Ofsted does not inspect all independent schools. It does however, inspect non-association independent schools. These include those that are not inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Schools Inspection Service and the Bridge Schools Inspectorate. Ofsted inspects all the rest that are not inspected by these three inspectorates which are referred to as ‘non-association’ independent schools.

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Published 18 December 2013