About ISI

How we relate to the Department for Education

The DfE is the registration authority and regulator of independent schools (no matter which inspectorate inspects them). The two functions are linked: the regulations take the form of standards that must be met in order for independent schools to be admitted onto and remain on the register of schools. Independent schools cannot operate lawfully unless they are registered. (It is a criminal offence to run an unregistered independent school.)

Ofsted is the registration authority and regulator (for enforcement purposes) of registered early years provision. In the context of a school, ‘registered early years provision’ means provision for children under the age of 2 years.

The DfE is also the approver and regulator of independent inspectorates. Ofsted is the statutory monitor of the work of independent inspectorates on behalf of the DfE.

In short, putting aside early years, the relationship can be summarised as follows:

–        Department for Education - sets and enforces the regulations for independent schools (the regulator)

–        Independent schools  - comply with the regulations (regulated)

–        ISI  - checks whether schools are compliant (inspectorate)

–        Ofsted  - monitors the work of ISI on behalf of DfE.

 

 

Registration authority

Regulator

Inspectorate

Independent schools

 (ISC association)

 

DfE

 

DfE

 

ISI

Independent schools

(other)

 

DfE

 

DfE

Ofsted/other approved independent inspectorate

Registered EY providers

(ISC association)

 

Ofsted

 DfE (legislation)

Ofsted (enforcement)

 

ISI

Registered EY providers

(other)

 

Ofsted

 DfE (legislation)

Ofsted (enforcement)

Ofsted/other approved independent inspectorate

 

 

Approver

 

Regulator

QA monitor

Independent inspectorates

 

 

DfE

 

DfE

 

Ofsted

 

The linked table answers some FAQs about the practical implications of the relationship between ISI and the Department for Education, as inspectorate and regulator respectively, and aims to dispel certain myths, the most common of which is that ISI is the regulator of independent schools.