British schools overseas inspection scheme

What British schools overseas need to know about the voluntary inspection scheme and available support.

British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), a number of BSOs have been closed by their local government as a mandatory measure. Many of these schools would have been due an inspection within the coming months to ensure that they continued to meet the relevant standards – a stipulation for BSO accreditation.

In circumstances where DfE have been made aware that the school have had their inspection postponed due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we will ensure that their BSO accreditation is extended until the inspection has been rescheduled and carried out.

Therefore we would advise all BSOs whose inspections have been impacted, and would like to apply for an extension to their accreditation to contact the Department at

When contacting DfE, please specify the reason for the rescheduling of the inspection, confirm the date the original inspection was due to be carried out, and (if available) any information regarding the postponed inspection. DfE will review all applications on an individual basis.

We have put in place a voluntary inspection scheme for overseas schools. This ensures schools provide their pupils with the skills and qualifications they need to enter or re-enter the British education system. The scheme helps to inform parents about how the standards in these schools measure up against the standards that apply to independent schools in England.


British schools overseas: standards for schools’ lists the standards that all accredited British schools overseas must meet. Approved inspectorates will use these standards when they inspect your school.

To become accredited you must have an inspection every 3 years which shows that your performance against all the standards is at least satisfactory.

Approved inspectorates

Inspectorates are approved by us and monitored by Ofsted to inspect British schools overseas and produce inspection reports.

Ofsted reports annually on the quality of the approved organisation’s inspections: ‘British schools overseas annual reports’.

In September 2017 we re-approved the following organisations to inspect and report on British schools overseas:

Schools in Dubai should request an inspection through the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) of the Government of Dubai, which works in partnership with the Education Development Trust.

In September 2017 we also re-approved the following organisations to inspect and report on British schools overseas but these organisations are no longer active in offering British schools overseas inspections:

Inspection fees

We have no role in fee-setting for overseas inspections. Schools must arrange their own inspections by contacting an approved inspectorate.

Inspection reports

Inspectorates are required to publish the results of all inspections on their website for the past 3 years. We have also published the BSO inspection reports on GOV.UK.

If you meet the standards you will be allocated a unique reference number on the national school reference system Get information about schools.


The following organisations provide help and support to British schools overseas in arranging and preparing for inspections:

You can find advice on offering induction to your newly qualified teachers in the ‘Induction for newly qualified teachers’ statutory guidance.


The Department for Education has no jurisdiction over schools operating outside England. Complaints about a school should be taken up with the school directly.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 18 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'Approved inspectorates' section.

  2. Added information about how inspections will be affected by Covid-19.

  3. Replaced link to 'Edubase' with link to 'Get information about schools'. Added 'Jurisdiction' section.

  4. Updated list of approved inspectorates.

  5. Added a link to the Association of British Schools Overseas.

  6. Updated list of approved inspectorates.

  7. Added link to list of accredited British schools overseas inspection reports.

  8. Updated the link to Cambridge Education so it points to the UK site.

  9. First published.