About ISI

What We Do

ISI is an independent, government-approved body which provides objective inspections to safeguard the quality and effectiveness of the education, care and welfare of children in schools. ISI is not an arm of the government, but an independent, not-for-profit inspectorate. Our work is monitored on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE) and a public report is made annually to the Secretary of State. ISI regularly contributes to the development of the national policy for education and welfare, including the latest DfE legislation and statutory guidance.


Safeguarding is at the heart of all ISI inspections. This involves checking whether schools are compliant with the minimum standards required, not only in terms of policies and procedures but, importantly, in what they do. Liaison with the local authority safeguarding leads and the DfE about safeguarding issues is a key part of our work. Inspectors not only check documentation but also interview staff and pupils to satisfy themselves as to the school’s safeguarding culture.

ISI inspections pay particular attention to hearing pupils’ voices

ISI inspections pay particular attention to hearing pupils’ voices. All pupils are invited to complete a confidential questionnaire in advance of the inspection and inspectors prioritise formal and informal meetings with pupils to ensure that any issues raised can be followed up during the visit. For the same reason all parents are invited to complete a confidential pre-inspection questionnaire. In addition, ISI keeps in regular touch with local authority safeguarding officers in order to ensure that we are kept informed about any issues that need to be followed up. Anybody with a concern about a school inspected by ISI can contact ISI at any time.

Quality assurance, and support and development

ISI inspections are designed according to a framework agreed with the DfE, and report against all the relevant regulations. ISI aims to provide high-quality inspections and, in addition to external monitoring, ISI monitors a proportion of its own inspections each year and invites all those involved in any inspection (head teachers, Reporting Inspectors and Team Inspectors) to evaluate the process and make any suggestions for improvement.

ISI inspections include an element of peer review, thus highly trained and experienced professional Reporting Inspectors are joined on inspections by current practitioners with day-to-day experience and understanding of leadership and management in today’s schools. Our inspections seek to aid schools with self-improvement and, as part of the inspection service, ISI provides training for school staff, regular guidance and updates, consultations and briefings, and access to support and advice year round.