Further education and skills inspection handbook

Guidance on how further education and skills providers are inspected under the common inspection framework.


Further education and skills inspection handbook

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This handbook describes the main activities Ofsted inspectors undertake when they inspect further education and skills providers. It sets out the main judgements that inspectors will report on.

Providers can also read quick guides to short inspections and full inspections.

The ‘Common inspection framework: education, skills and early years’ sets out our inspection principles and the main judgements that inspectors make.

The mythbuster document outlines Ofsted’s requirements and dispels myths that can result in unnecessary workloads in colleges.

Published 2 August 2016
Last updated 26 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. Minor clarifications in sections 11, 19, 33 and 110.
  2. Minor changes to address the introduction of a provider staff questionnaire.
  3. Changes clarifying: all newly directly funded providers delivering apprenticeship training provision and funded from or after April 2017 (within Ofsted’s remit) will receive a monitoring visit within 24 months of starting funding. Details also set out timing of full inspections. Changes clarifying: newly merged colleges will normally receive a monitoring visit before the first full inspection, if the overall effectiveness grade of one or more of the predecessor colleges was requires improvement or inadequate (though this may not happen where the merged college has already received a support and challenge visit or the most recent merger took place before January 2018).
  4. Clarifications regarding monitoring visits, re-inspection and Ofsted's privacy policy.
  5. Replaces support and challenge visits with monitoring visits for requires improvement providers and in other circumstances following the consultation: (allowing for transition). Notifies that the inspection time-frame for good providers will be ‘within five years from the last inspection’ following the September 2015 to August 2018 three-year window. Minor additions between paragraphs 58 and 91 to reflect up-to-date situations and practice. Limited changes to the grade descriptors for inspecting apprenticeship provision.
  6. Amended footnotes 6 and 11 to clarify re-inspection in certain circumstances.
  7. Minor additions to take into account section 41 of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 which comes into effect from 2 January 2018. This requires Ofsted to comment on careers guidance in inspection reports of colleges.
  8. Change to the arrangements for sharing reporting letters resulting from support and challenge visits. Other minor updates and clarification.
  9. Ofsted will inspect apprenticeships funded through both the apprenticeship levy and ESFA. Minor changes to the apprenticeship inspection evaluation criteria and grading characteristics.
  10. New document added - Ofsted inspection: myths.
  11. First published.