Manageability +
  • Inspectors must be mindful of the impact of inspections on the workload of leaders and staff in schools. Inspectors must be sensitive to this at all stages of the inspection. The work of inspectors should not unduly disrupt the usual day-to-day running of the school.

  • Inspectors will not expect or request leaders or staff to produce documentation specifically for inspection, prior to, or during onsite inspection. Inspectors will review the information that leaders and staff use in the school's chosen format. Paragraph 79 of ISI's inspection handbook lists the information that schools are requested to make available to inspectors at the start of the onsite inspection.

  • Inspectors will not expect school staff to collate samples of books or pupils' work in advance of inspection. Inspectors will view pupils' work in whatever form it is held (including digitally). Inspectors will view pupils' work with pupils and with members of staff where appropriate. Inspectors will not ask schools to make copies of work that is held digitally. Inspectors may request that a member of staff is available to help navigate a school's electronic systems, for example to review samples of pupils' work.

  • Inspectors may request to see and/or discuss specific examples of files or records in order to evaluate typical day-to-day practice at the school. Inspectors will evaluate how the examples demonstrate the positive impact for pupils of decisions leaders have made in relevant areas. Inspectors will make clear to leaders that leaders should not prepare or have prepared written case studies specifically for the inspection. Any such preparation does not align with the principle of manageability of inspection and is therefore unlikely to be seen by inspectors as typical of the school's provision.

  • School leaders may suggest suitable times for inspection discussions, for example, with staff, the proprietor(s)/ those responsible for governance or pupils. Inspectors will endeavour to accommodate these suggestions to minimise disruption to the school day.
Collaboration +
  • Reporting inspectors will, wherever possible and appropriate, work collaboratively with the proprietors, school leaders and staff to ensure the smooth running of the inspection and effective evidence gathering.

  • The reporting inspector will liaise regularly throughout the inspection with the headteacher, or their designated senior leader, keeping them informed of emerging evidence and to amend the inspection plan, as required. Reporting inspectors will provide school leaders with the opportunity to signpost any additional evidence that may be relevant to the emerging judgements. These regular keeping-in-touch meetings will also provide opportunities for the headteacher to raise any concerns including about the conduct of inspection. The reporting inspector will raise any serious emerging issues, which indicate one or more of the Standards may be unmet, with the headteacher at the earliest opportunity. However, the reporting inspector will make clear to the headteacher that final judgements can only be reached when all the inspection evidence has been reviewed. This judgement is provisional until report publication.

  • Reporting inspectors will offer school leaders the opportunity to be involved in some inspection activities. These may include reviewing pupils' work, joint lesson walks, discussion of examples of existing records and evidence, and tours of the school premises to consider related Standards.

  • Joint inspection activities are helpful to inspectors when school leaders can provide context for the evidence that inspectors are recording and evaluating. These activities may also be helpful to school leaders in enabling them to understand how inspectors evaluate evidence and reach judgements.

  • The reporting inspector will determine which inspection activities are appropriate for school leaders to be involved in. The role of the school leader is to provide context for the evidence and not to influence inspectors' evaluation of the evidence.
Triangulation and typicality +
  • Triangulation is the process inspectors use to contextualise and test inspection evidence. Inspectors will look for connected sources of evidence, wherever this is available, to reach valid and reliable judgements.

  • Inspectors gather evidence from a wide range of sources. These include: discussions with school leaders, staff and pupils; information from the inspection surveys for pupils, parents and staff; first-hand observations; scrutiny of documentation and school records.

  • Inspectors will consider what they are seeing, reading and hearing; why it is important and how it relates to the Standards; how it relates to other evidence; and what further evidence inspectors need to gather.

  • Inspectors will want to see the school operating as it usually does, to evaluate what is typically experienced by pupils. Inspectors may include in the report examples of provision they observe during the onsite inspection, but only where such examples are confirmed by inspectors as typical. This is particularly important when reporting the quality of teaching and learning and the behaviour of pupils.

  • Inspectors will confirm the typicality of what they are seeing, hearing and reading by considering connected evidence (triangulation) including through:
    • discussions with leaders, staff and pupils
    • review of school records
    • review of pupils' work over time
    • observations around the school site.
  • Inspectors may not expect, request or encourage school leaders to reorganise the curriculum timetable for pupils during inspections. Lessons and activities for pupils should go ahead as planned, including any off-site visits or pre-arranged visitors. Inspectors will adapt their inspection plans to ensure they gather the necessary evidence. Where inspectors are not able to see teaching in any particular curriculum area, they will seek evidence of teaching and learning from other sources, for instance by speaking with pupils and staff and by reviewing pupils' work.
Proportionality +
  • When judging the extent to which a school meets the Standards, inspectors will exercise their professional judgement. They will consider the reasonableness of leaders' decision-making and the impact of those decisions on pupils' learning, experience and safety.

  • Where there are some relative weaknesses or minor errors that can be easily rectified in a school's processes and/or provision, inspectors will take a proportionate approach. Inspectors will consider if those weaknesses amount to a failure to meet one or more of the Standards.

  • The scale and impact of any weaknesses or errors will be taken into consideration by inspectors.

  • If inspectors consider that relative weaknesses or errors do not amount to a failure to meet the Standards, this will be reflected in the text of the inspection report and is likely to lead to recommended next steps in the inspection report.

  • Where school leaders make amendments to the school's policies, processes or provision during inspections, inspectors will consider the scale and impact of such amendments and consider their impact on inspection judgements. Inspectors may conclude that changes in a policy document made by school leaders during the course of an inspection are unlikely to be able to be demonstrated as effectively implemented by leaders.

  • 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. Systemic failings include decision making by leaders based on a lack of understanding of what is required to meet the Standards, or an inability or reluctance to do what is required.