School inspection handbook

Guidance for inspecting schools under the common inspection framework, with a mythbuster document on common misconceptions.


School inspection handbook

School inspection handbook

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Ofsted inspections: myths


The handbook sets out what inspectors must do and what schools can expect, and provides guidance for inspectors on making their judgements. It describes the main activities undertaken by inspectors conducting inspections of schools in England under section 5 of the Education Act 2005. It also sets out the judgements that inspectors will make and on which they will report.

It is to be used in inspections under the ‘Common inspection framework: education, skills and early years’.

The mythbuster document sets out facts about Ofsted’s requirements and dispels myths that can result in unnecessary workloads in schools.

Read the handbook for short, monitoring and unannounced behaviour school inspections.

Published 15 June 2015
Last updated 17 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated handbook: added privacy notice information, updated ‘Inspection of religious education and collective worship’ section (in annex). Updated ‘Clarification for schools/Ofsted inspection myths' document: added new information in 'Evidence for inspection section' about attainment, added new sections on performance management, safeguarding, and the curriculum.
  2. Updated paragraphs 21 and 23 to clarify that good schools are now inspected approximately every 4 years.
  3. Paragraph 17 has been amended to clarify the position for inspecting exempt schools.
  4. Updated for changes to 'Requires improvement' monitoring and changes arising from the second consultation on short inspections.
  5. Changes to the Outcomes for pupils section reflecting changes to GCSE grades and data reports (a new IDSR); updates to Clarification for schools section and mythbuster document around myths and misunderstandings; clarification of arrangements for meeting relevant members of the governance structure and inclusion of chief executives or equivalents in inspections of academies in multi-academy trusts; and new content explaining what happens to schools that receive the ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ judgements.
  6. Link to latest inspection blog post with summary of changes to handbook.
  7. Updated to reflect changes in legislation.
  8. Added HTML version of inspection myths document.
  9. Updated clarification document for schools added. This document has been updated to reflect the handbook for use from September 2015.
  10. Final document for use from September 2015 published.
  11. First published.