ISI is approved by the Secretary of State for Education under section 106 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 to carry out inspections of independent schools. As such it is accountable to the Department for Education, as regulator, for complying with the terms of its authorisation. ISI is also accountable to Ofsted under section 107 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, and is currently working under directions from the Secretary of State for joint working with Ofsted on the inspection of independent schools. As a private, not-for-profit company, ISI is governed by an independent Board of Directors, which holds the senior management to account for the delivery of inspections as directed by the Secretary of State. The ISI Board is independent from the Independent Schools Council (ISC), the ISC Associations and the schools that ISI inspects. It comprises independent directors who were appointed because of their experience and skills. The Board adheres to the Nolan Principles of Public Life. Importantly, ISI is accountable as a key part of the regulatory process, to the pupils and parents of the schools it inspects.
The Department for Education
ISI is approved by the Secretary of State for Education and the Department for Education (DfE) has substantial on-going oversight of our work. The ISI Chief Inspector-Chief Executive is appointed by the Board and the appointment requires the approval of the Secretary of State. The information which ISI is required to submit to the DfE includes:
- Details of any proposed change to the composition of the pool from which inspection teams are drawn;
- Details of any proposed substantive changes to inspection frameworks for consultation;
- A schedule of inspections, a term in advance;
- At least monthly updates during term time on inspections;
- Any complaint raised about a school inspected by ISI that may indicate that the standards are not being met;
- A termly report on compliance with the standards in inspected schools; and
- Annual information about the number and nature of complaints which have been considered at the formal stage of ISI’s complaints process.
The terms of appointment also require termly keeping-in-touch meetings which are supplemented by many informal day-to-day contacts between ISI and DfE staff.
As the only schools inspectorates at present, ISI and Ofsted are working together to develop a detailed understanding of each other’s inspections with a view to mutual learning. This includes looking thematically at aspects of inspections such as the use of data, the design and implementation of inspection frameworks, and inspection methodology. Click here for more information.
The ISI Board
The Board of Directors has overall responsibility for the organisation, ensuring delivery of its mission, the upholding of the organisational values and its financial viability. It agrees and monitors ISI’s strategy and ensures appropriate management arrangements and resources are in place to deliver it. A fundamental part of its role is to monitor overall organisational performance against key performance indicators and to monitor compliance with ISI’s terms of appointment by the Secretary of State. The Board also promotes the long-term success of the organisation by identifying opportunities to create and preserve value and by overseeing the identification and mitigation of risks. As part of that, it ensures that there is meaningful engagement with ISI’s stakeholders, including its staff, actively seeking to foster good relationships with all.
The Board sets the tone for the whole organisation, operating in accordance with the Nolan Principles and with our own ISI Code of Conduct, promoting ISI’s purpose and ensuring that its values, strategy and culture underpin that purpose. The Board may comprise up to eleven experienced directors, who are independent of the schools we inspect and who are committed to ISI’s purpose and mission. They bring a wide range of skills, expertise and backgrounds to support delivery of ISI’s objectives and ensure its success in line with good governance. The Board appoints a safeguarding lead from its membership as part of the ISI policy on safeguarding and therefore ensures that it has appropriate skills in this area to effectively discharge its responsibility.
In addition to the work of the whole board, there are other specific committees and groups which enable:
- The board to exercise oversight (see Board Committees)
- The board to engage with experts and key stakeholders (see below for information on our Educational Advisory Forum and our Cross Association Inspection Forum)
The detailed scrutiny of certain areas of the Board’s responsibilities is delegated to two Committees, which report to the Board. These are the Finance and Risk Committee and the Governance, Nominations and Remuneration Committee. The Board is also supported by an Education Advisory Forum which helps inform ISI’s key policy and strategy decisions.
Education Advisory Forum (EAF)
The EAF comprises highly experienced and qualified representatives from across the educational and inspection sectors, including from the independent schools associations, their schools and academia. It acts as a stimulus for high-quality strategic thinking to inform the continuous development of ISI’s inspection services and delivery of its educational mission, in particular:
- by providing in-depth knowledge, skills and understanding of education and inspection to inform discussion and debate; and
- by providing advice, guidance and recommendations to the ISI Board.
Cross Association Inspection Meeting (CAIM)
The Cross-Association Inspection Meeting invites feedback from schools in membership of an ISC Association on matters pertaining to inspection. This feedback allows for continual refinement of our inspections and gives us valuable insight into emerging developments in schools.