ISI has four inspection principles on which its inspection practice is built. These are:
Manageability: ISI understands that inspection is a significant event for a school and will promote practices on inspection that, as far as possible, align with the day-to-day life of the school and do not cause unnecessary workload for the school or for the inspection team.
Collaboration: Inspectors will seek to work alongside school leaders and staff where appropriate to do so, discussing evidence and sharing emerging findings.
Triangulation and typicality: Inspectors will consider a range of evidence when forming evaluations on inspection. Inspectors will look for evidence of what would be typical provision for pupils at the school over time. Inspectors will consider a range of connected evidence, including school records and by confirming the context of what inspectors are seeing, hearing and reading on inspection.
Proportionality: When judging the extent to which a school meets the Standards, inspectors will exercise their professional judgement. Where there are some relative weaknesses or minor errors that can be easily rectified, inspectors will take a proportionate approach. Inspectors will consider if those weaknesses amount to a failure to meet one or more of the Standards. Weaknesses or errors which are indicative of systemic failings in the school’s processes and/or provision will lead to a judgement that the relevant Standards are unmet.
There is one type of routine inspection, and each school should typically be inspected routinely once every three years. The resulting report will follow the structure of this framework.
There are three types of non-routine inspections, which are reported on specific report templates depending on which type of inspection is commissioned by the Department for Education:
Material Change: This occurs when a school applies to change the terms of its registration with the Department for Education, for example by extending its age range.
Progress Monitoring: This occurs when a school has failed to meet the standards on a scheduled inspection and is visited for a second time, to inspect for improvement.
Additional: This occurs when the Department for Education have reason for a school to be inspected urgently.
The inspection team will use their professional judgement to report on the quality of provision at the school through evaluating outcomes for pupils. The inspection report will be evidence based and will reflect what inspectors saw, read, heard and noticed as part of the inspection. Evaluation will result from careful consideration of the inspection evidence. The report will be written in clear and unambiguous language.
Inspection reporting is evaluative, both in the text of the report and through identifying strengths and areas for development. Evaluation will be based on evidence of impact and outcomes for pupils as a result of leaders’ effective decision making and planning.
Inspection reports will reflect inspection findings regarding the complex and wide-ranging nature of school provision and the breadth of impact for pupils. Each section of the report (which corresponds to the sections of the framework) will report clearly and with supporting evidence the extent to which the school meets the relevant standards and other regulations.
The summary section of the inspection report will give a balanced evaluative overview of provision at the school. It will describe the main areas of strength and any relative weaknesses relating to all sections of the framework.
In the summary section, inspectors will:
- recommend next steps where standards are met, or
- give an overview of areas for action where standards are not met.
In addition, inspectors may:
- highlight any areas of provision that have been identified on inspection as significant strengths
- where standards are unmet, state whether specific, serious and/or multiple failings in the school’s provision.
Each section of the report relating to the four sections of the framework will describe more fully, the strengths, relative weaknesses, any significant strengths and where standards are not met whether there are specific and serious and/or multiple failings in the school’s provision.
There are three types of ISI inspector:
- Reporting inspector (RI) who leads the inspection, directs the inspection team and writes the report.
- Team inspector (TI) who is a member of the inspection team, evaluates provision at the school and contributes to the team judgement.
- Associate inspector (AI) who supports the inspection through shadowing the inspection team and may record evidence but does not contribute to the team judgements. An associate inspector will be aspiring to senior leadership in an association school. Each association school can nominate one associate inspector. The Associate Inspector programme is intended to be introduced during year two of this framework.
All inspectors will receive initial and regular update training appropriate to their role. Inspectors draw on the experience of the independent school sector and have appropriate specialist knowledge. Following a DBS check, all inspectors must hold a clear enhanced DBS certificate and be a member of the DBS update service.
Leadership must ensure that arrangements are made to safeguard and promote the welfare of pupils for whom the school provides accommodation (boarders), which meet the requirements of (as applicable) the National Minimum Standards for boarding schools.
The inspection team will consider how effectively leadership actively promotes the wellbeing of boarders at the school when making judgements for the whole school.
Any specific aspects of provision relevant only to boarding pupils, and not covered elsewhere in the report, will be reported under a section in the report on boarding.
The inspection team will consider how effectively leadership actively promotes the wellbeing of all children in early years provision at the school when making judgements for the whole school.
An evaluation of the school’s provision for children from birth to five is also reported in accordance with the requirements of the early years foundation stage.
Provision for children under the age of two in a registered setting is also evaluated and reported in accordance with the requirements of Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework and associated guidance.