Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): boarding schools and residential special schools

11. Preparing for an inspection

What happens before an inspection.

Pre-inspection analysis and planning are important parts of all SCCIF inspections. Inspectors are allocated 1 day to prepare for a full inspection and half a day to prepare for any other type of inspection. This time should be used to review the information held by Ofsted and to ensure that the fieldwork is properly focused and used to best effect in collecting first-hand evidence.

Inspectors look at the information that Ofsted already holds about the school or is publicly available about the school and its boarding provision, including:

  • previous inspection reports for both the boarding/residential provision and the education provision the last inspection report for the local authority area in which the school is based
  • any concerns and complaints received either about the boarding/residential provision or the school via Ofsted’s provider information portal
  • the school’s own website, which may contain relevant policies and procedures and the school’s statement of particulars
  • the school’s child protection policy (if available on the school’s website) to ensure that it adequately reflects the needs of children and young people and provides sound and comprehensive guidance that meets the particular needs of the young people at that school
  • the analysis of views of children and young people in boarding/residential provision, boarding staff and, where relevant, placing authorities from the point-in-time surveys
  • responses from Parent View.

In addition, the inspector takes account of relevant background and context information such as the most recent inspection of the local authority where the school is situated.

Some of this information is drawn together in the provider information portal (PIP).

The inspector carries out an analysis of the available evidence and information and must record their planning notes on our inspection database (the electronic system used by Ofsted to administer and record regulatory inspections).

The plan for the inspection sets out lines of enquiry, any areas of apparent weakness or significant strength, or areas where further evidence needs to be gathered. The focus of the inspection may change during its course as further evidence emerges.

11.1 Questionnaires

Each year, Ofsted uses online questionnaires to gather a range of views about different types of setting. Where relevant, this includes the views of:

  • children and young people
  • parents and carers
  • staff
  • foster carers
  • adopters
  • adult service users
  • other interested parties such as placing social workers and independent reviewing officers

Ofsted sends links to the questionnaires annually to each provider by email and asks them to distribute those links on its behalf. The responses are submitted directly to Ofsted.

Responses are shared with the inspector for the service or setting and are used to inform the planning and scheduling of inspections. Where there are no responses for a service or setting, this also forms a line of enquiry for the inspection.

11.2 Parent View

Ofsted’s online service Parent View is available for the parents and carers of children in schools to give their opinion of the school, including its boarding/residential provision. As part of their preparation, the lead inspector checks the responses for the school from the Parent View website. In cases where no responses have been entered, inspectors take such steps as they deem necessary to obtain the views of parents and carers. They may, for example, telephone some parents and carers during the course of the inspection.