School inspection handbook

Ofsted guidance on inspecting maintained schools and academies in England under the education inspection framework.

Applies to England


Types of school inspections


You can also read ‘Ofsted EIF inspections and the EYFS – what those delivering the EYFS in schools need to know about inspection, the EYFS and the pandemic.

This handbook is primarily a guide for inspectors on how to carry out inspections of maintained schools and academies under section 5 and section 8 of the Education Act 2005.

We also publish this for schools and other interested parties so that they are aware of Ofsted’s inspection processes and procedures under the education inspection framework (EIF).

We have also published guidance for monitoring inspections, along with ‘Inspecting schools: guide for maintained and academy schools’.

Published 14 May 2019
Last updated 5 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. See 'Summary of changes'.

  2. See 'Summary of changes'.

  3. See 'Summary of changes.'

  4. We are in the process of updating the school inspection and school monitoring handbooks to reflect the changes mentioned in our statement published on 7 December.

  5. See 'Summary of changes.'

  6. See 'Summary of changes.'

  7. See 'Summary of changes'.

  8. See 'Summary of changes'.

  9. See 'Summary of changes' for details.

  10. See 'Summary of changes'.

  11. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  12. Added guidance on aligned inspections of schools with boarding or residential provision.

  13. Removed old guidance: the September 2021 handbook is now in force.

  14. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  15. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  16. Edits throughout: see 'Summary of changes' for details.

  17. Updated with minor changes following the launch of the education inspection framework (EIF).

  18. Updated with minor changes as we launch the education inspection framework (EIF).

  19. First published.