Proposals announced for new ISI framework

Monday 16 May 2022

ISI has launched a consultation on how it plans to inspect schools from September 2023.


The draft inspection framework sets out ISI’s principles and methods of inspection. These include the approach ISI plans to take, and how the inspectorate proposes to evaluate and report on the quality of provision in schools.​

ISI proposes that it will continue to report clearly on the extent to which schools meet the statutory Independent School Standards (‘the Standards’) and other regulatory requirements, as well as capturing what is distinctive about individual schools, their culture and ethos. ​

The proposed framework emphasises the importance of school leaders’ existing responsibility to actively promote the wellbeing of all pupils and reflects the significant changes across education and wider society over the past six years. It also aims to ensure reports are informative and clear, whilst capturing accurately the breadth of provision and the range of experiences in each school.​

The following key proposals are included in the consultation, which is open until 23 September 2022.

Inspecting against the Standards through the lens of pupil wellbeing

The proposed framework provides a clear structure for inspection and reporting. This takes a thematic approach​, based on the definition of wellbeing already contained in the Standards.

The first section of ISI inspection reports will emphasise the importance of leadership and management, as well as summarising key findings from the whole inspection. This will be followed by five sections taken from the statutory definition of wellbeing (Children Act 2004):​

  • Pupils’ physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing​
  • Protection of pupils from harm and neglect​
  • Pupils’ education, training and recreation​
  • The contribution made by pupils to society​
  • Pupils’ social and economic wellbeing


Inspectors will evaluate, with evidence, the provision under each heading. The report will state whether relevant Standards are met or not met for each section.

Introduction of an associate inspector role

ISI proposes that every association school will be able to nominate one associate inspector. This will provide increased opportunities for aspiring senior leaders or those new to senior leadership to shadow an inspection. Being part of an inspection team provides valuable insight and practical experience of quality assurance methods, which complement ongoing professional development for school leaders across the sector.​

Single type of routine inspection

ISI is proposing to move from two different types of routine inspection to a single type of routine inspection. This will promote clarity and consistency in reporting over time, and simplify the inspection process for schools. ​

Schools will continue to be inspected every three years, or as directed by the Department for Education.​

Nuanced evaluations

As well as reporting whether the school’s provision meets relevant standards or not, inspectors may also indicate that aspects of the school’s provision are exceptional (with demonstrable positive impact for pupils) or are a cause for concern.​

Vanessa Ward, Chief Inspector-CEO at ISI, said: ​

  • “The changes proposed represent an evolution of how we currently inspect schools. They build on the strengths of our current framework and consider the significant changes across education and wider society over the past six years.”​

  • “We are proposing to place the responsibility that school leaders already have to actively promote the wellbeing of all pupils at the heart of ISI’s inspection practice. These proposals for inspection focus on pupils' wellbeing, while capturing the breadth of provision and the range of pupils’ experiences in each school.”​

  • “Our feedback tells us that being part of an inspection team provides valuable insight and practical experience of quality assurance methods. I am confident that the proposal to introduce associate inspectors, if adopted, will deliver lasting benefits to the sector, through the shadowing of inspections and high quality training.”​

  • “We are committed to gathering feedback on our proposals from a wide range of stakeholders and will carefully consider all views that we receive. We actively encourage everyone affected by the inspection of association schools to complete our survey and we thank you in advance.”


For more information and to take part in the consultation visit ISI’s Framework 2023 microsite.