Inspections of unregistered schools: guidance for inspectors

This handbook sets out Ofsted’s policies and procedures for inspecting premises that appear to be operating as unregistered independent schools.


Handbook for conducting inspections of unregistered schools

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A person who conducts an independent school that is not registered is guilty of an offence under section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

Under section 97 of the Act, if Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) has reasonable cause to believe that an offence under section 96 is being committed, he has the power to enter and inspect the premises.

This document outlines what Ofsted inspectors must consider when deciding whether:

  • an offence is being committed
  • whether to proceed with an inspection
  • what happens during an inspection
Published 3 September 2015
Last updated 31 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include details of a pilot in which inspectors in the Unregistered Schools Team will use body worn video cameras when inspecting suspected unregistered schools.

  2. Changes to the following sections: Warning notice, Gathering of evidence, Retention of material, Reporting the inspection findings. Removed glossary and sections on case discussion and further investigations. Added a sample search record (Annex C).

  3. Updated for use from September 2016.

  4. First published.