31 March 2021


ISI and Ofsted: joint working

The work of ISI is monitored by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education. This results in an annual report by Ofsted to the Secretary of State for Education on ISI’s inspection work. The latest annual report by Ofsted on the work of ISI can be found here: Annual report by Ofsted on the inspection work of ISI dated 4 November 2020.

The focus of the statutory monitoring activity by Ofsted of the work of ISI is set out in directions made by the Secretary of State for Education as detailed in the a letter from Lord Agnew to Amanda Spielman, HMCI, Ofsted dated 4th November 2019.

This letter revoked earlier monitoring arrangements, and set in place joint working arrangements between Ofsted and ISI to exchange and develop their mutual knowledge and understanding of inspecting independent schools, with a view to informing best practice in each organisation.

In the covering letter to her annual report in November 2020, Amanda Spielman HMCI wrote to ISI: “We have all faced unprecedented challenges this year as a result of the pandemic. Despite this, it is encouraging to see the collaborative work that has taken place between our inspectorates. I look forward to working with you next year.”

As detailed in the annual report, during the autumn 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020 terms, Ofsted and ISI embarked on collaborative activities, which included:

  • Ofsted and ISI working collaboratively to help DfE take enforcement action against two failing schools;
  • Ofsted shadowing an ISI-led regulatory compliance inspection (in addition to the initial shadowing of two inspections in the summer term of 2019)
  • Ofsted staff attending the ISI annual training conference
  • ISI staff attending an Ofsted online training session
  • Other meetings and discussions held between senior staff.

Ofsted and ISI have remained in regular contact over the past year, with fortnightly meetings which include the DfE, and have continued a constructive working relationship. This has included discussing approaches to restarting inspection so that it can be sufficiently aligned across the independent sector.

ISI’s core purpose is to enable children to be safe, well-educated and to thrive. ISI fulfils this through its appointment by the Department for Education to inspect over 1200 independent schools in England which are members, through their Associations, of the Independent Schools’ Council. Ofsted inspects independent schools which are not members of ISC associations. Both ISI and Ofsted inspect against the Independent School Standards, which are set out in legislation, and statutory guidance on safeguarding.