As soon you start considering nursery or a childminder for your child you’ll suddenly become very interested in Ofsted and what they have to say. Read on to understand what Ofsted is, where and why to read Ofsted reports and what the ratings mean.
When you’re choosing schools and childcare it’s reassuring to know that there are a set of important standards that they need to maintain, and that there’s an organisation responsible for measuring how well they perform. Let’s find out more about Ofsted.
Ofsted is short for the Office for Standards in Education, children’s services and skills. It was created in 1992 to inspect all services providing education and skills for learners at any age.
Ofsted’s role is to make sure that organisations deliver good standards of education. Every week, it carries out hundreds of inspections and regulatory visits throughout England and publishes the results online. It is independent and impartial.
Every inspection is documented in a dedicated report about each childcare setting or school, with an overall Ofsted rating.
You can view the reports online at the Ofsted online portal: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/
Typical areas of inspection include the quality of education, the behaviours and attitudes encouraged in the learners, personal development opportunities, leadership and management.
Ofsted uses a grading system to summarise how each school or childcare setting performs. These are:
grade 1 – outstanding
grade 2 – good
grade 3 – requires improvement
grade 4 – inadequate
These grades are stated in each Ofsted report. In 2017, around 91% of nurseries, preschools and childminders were judged good or outstanding. Around 84% of schools achieve these ratings.
Ofsted inpections are either short, one day inspections or a ‘full inspection’ lasting two days. Inspectors observe lessons, look at paperwork and speak to teachers, parents and pupils to gather evidence, as well as the local authority.
New schools are inspected within three years of opening. How often the visits take place depends on the school’s last rating. If they were judged good or outstanding, they will be likely to have a short inspection to check on standards, usually around every four years. If a school requires improvement it will be re-inspected within 30 months.
If it’s judged inadequate it is placed in a ‘category of concern’ and given specific information about how it needs to improve, and will be reinspected.
New nurseries and childminders are inspected within 30 months of opening, and then once every inspection cycle. This is around four years.
The Ofsted inspections and reports can help parents make informed decisions about where to send their children. They will help you decide what’s important to you as a parent and how suitable each setting will be for your child. Because Ofsted is independent and impartial, its reports are a good way to check on what the school or nursery might tell you about how they operate.