Inspections

School updates

ISI provides regular updates to association schools about any changes to inspection practice.

Please see below our latest updates. For more information about the impact of Covid-19 on inspections click here.

Additional guidance for schools is available in the ISI Portal (login required).

Inspection arrangements - December 2021 and January 2022

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 8 December 2021 of the adoption of ‘Plan B’, routine regulatory compliance inspections (RCIs) and education quality inspections (EQIs) will not take place during the last week of the autumn term and first week of the spring term. However, a small number of inspections that have been commissioned by the Department for Education as a result of urgent concerns, for example additional inspections, progress monitoring visits and brought-forward inspections, will continue as scheduled. 

The same approach will be adopted for the week of the 3 January 2022. Routine inspection will therefore resume from the 10 January. 

We will contact all schools again in the week of the 3 January to reiterate inspection arrangements for the coming term. If you have any questions, please get in touch on support@isi.net. 

Our Covid protocol for inspection remains unchanged and is available on the portal.

ISI’s Commentary on Regulatory Requirements 

ISI's Commentary on the Regulatory Requirements, which provides a detailed analysis of the Independent School Standards, has been updated and is now available on the Portal.

Schools are reminded that this should not be seen as a substitute for reading Department for Education documentation – particularly the updated Keeping Children Safe in Education, Working Together to Safeguard Children, Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between Children in Schools and Colleges and Relationships and Sex Education guidance, plus Department for Education guidance on the ISSRs
 
ISI documentation has been updated over the summer to reflect any changes.

Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges

ISI consider the Ofsted review to be essential reading for all schools and their governing bodies. 

It contains the following recommendations for school and college leaders:

School and college leaders should create a culture where sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are not tolerated, and where they identify issues and intervene early to better protect children and young people.

In order to do this, they should assume that sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are happening in their setting, even when there are no specific reports, and put in place a whole-school approach to address them. This should include:

  • a carefully sequenced RSHE curriculum, based on the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) statutory guidance, that specifically includes sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online. This should include time for open discussion of topics that children and young people tell us they find particularly difficult, such as consent and the sending of ‘nudes’

  • high-quality training for teachers delivering RSHE

  • routine record-keeping and analysis of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online, to identify patterns and intervene early to prevent abuse

  • a behavioural approach, including sanctions when appropriate, to reinforce a culture where sexual harassment and online sexual abuse are not tolerated

  • working closely with Local Safeguarding Partners (LSPs) in the area where the school or college is located so they are aware of the range of support available to children and young people who are victims or who perpetrate harmful sexual behaviour

  • support for designated safeguarding leads (DSLs), such as protected time in timetables to engage with LSPs

  • training to ensure that all staff (and governors, where relevant) are able to:

    • better understand the definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including online sexual abuse
    • identify early signs of peer-on-peer sexual abuse
    • consistently uphold standards in their responses to sexual harassment and online sexual abuse”


In response to the review recommendations, ISI’s Reporting Inspector training in September 2021 included joint training with Ofsted to sharpen inspection practice across both inspectorates in these important areas.

Inspection practice will reflect the findings of the review from September 2021, further strengthening ISI’s robust approach to the inspection of safeguarding, and its reporting on the welfare, health and safety of pupils (Part 3 of the Independent School Standards).

More information about ISI’s response to Ofsted’s review into peer-on-peer sexual abuse and harassment can be found here

Resumption of Routine Inspections 

Routine inspections have now resumed. We are very aware of the challenges faced by school leaders, staff and pupils because of the pandemic.  Our update training for all of our inspectors emphasises the need for sensitivity to the disruption and stress experienced by school communities over the past 18 months.  Please note the following points:

  • Feedback on the adjustments made during the summer term to RCI and EQI inspections – as detailed in our Guidance for inspectors on conducting inspections during Covid-19 – was positive, and they will continue this term.  The adjustments are mainly around inspection length and remote working. 

  • Inspectors will not evaluate levels of achievement evident in September 2020 which relate to pupils’ learning between March and September 2020. Inspectors will not take into account schools’ responses to Covid-19 during the spring and summer terms 2020. Inspectors will continue to evaluate the impact of teaching (whether on-site or online) on pupils’ outcomes (Part 1, Para 3).

  • All schools will receive both an RCI and EQI inspection within the current extended inspection cycle, which runs until July 2023.  The scheduling of inspections within that timeframe depends on a number of factors, including requests by Department for Education to prioritise particular inspections. Therefore, schools should be prepared for their next inspection any time between now and the end of the cycle.

  • Any inspection related questions should be sent to support@isi.net


National Minimum Standards for Boarding


The Department for Education has confirmed that the revised National Minimum Standards for Boarding will not be published until 2022.  Schools and inspectorates will be given appropriate time to prepare for the changes coming into force. 
  
Examination and Assessment Data

Please upload 2021 examination results and assessment data to the ISI Portal (or email data@isi.net). Revised policies and any other pre-inspection information (see below on sexual harassment records) should also be uploaded or made available on an inspection section of the school website.  Out-of-date material should be removed. 

Pupil Numbers

While on the portal please also update your pupil numbers so that we have an accurate record for the academic year 2021-22.  This information feeds into our invoicing of schools and will help make sure that it is accurate.  Please log onto to the ISI Portal,  go to ‘School numbers’, put in your figures and then click on ‘Save and update record’.

If you have any technical difficulties please email data@isi.net

Online Safeguarding Training 

Schools are reminded that when they use commercially available online safeguarding training, it must meet the requirements set by their Local Safeguarding Partnership (LSP).  As a lot of this type of training is generic you will often need to add schools and/or LSP specific information to it, including local issues, referral routes and nomenclature. 

ISI and AGBIS RSE Webinars  

ISI and AGBIS have delivered a series of free RSE-themed webinars. The sessions were delivered by Vanessa Ward (ISI Chief Inspector-Chief Executive) and Richard Harman (AGBIS CEO).  Schools can now access all three webinars at the following links: 
 
Webinar 1 – Recommendations for schools from Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges
 
Webinar 2 – Implications of the Government’s new RSE policy for schools
 
Webinar 3 - How to promote a positive school culture for all pupils
 
Sexual Abuse Records

Reporting Inspectors will now ask schools in the introductory phone call to supply their records of sexual abuse to the inspection team. This request used to be made during the inspection but we have moved it earlier to allow more time for the inspection team to follow any evidence trails.

Team Inspector Update Training

Team inspector Update Training video modules continue to be rolled out to TIs as they accept invitations and in advance of going out on inspection. Three additional modules have recently been produced covering the Ofsted Review of sexual abuse in schools, the RSHE requirements and the implications of both for inspection. Team inspectors are strongly encouraged to engage with these at their earliest convenience once invited to complete them.

Team Inspector Recruitment 

Initial team inspector recruitment remains paused for the time being.

Please continue to log any interest by signing up to our mailing list to be contacted when future recruitment rounds open.

New ISI Policies

We have revised our Complaints Policy and our Concerns Policy.

Both are on our website and apply from 1 September 2021.

We will also be publishing all reports from 1 September 2021 (unless Department for Education says not to or our Complaints Policy applies), including reports arising from an additional inspection commissioned by the Department for Education where the school remains compliant.
 
Framework 23

We are looking forward to starting discussions in the new year followed by consultations and pilots during 2022.

A consultation timeline will be shared with all schools and associations towards the end of term.