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Latest news: Is Ofsted to inspect more private schools?

Ofsted wants to spend more time in private schools to assess the inspections carried out by external companies.

Photo Credit:© Alicia Canter/eyevine

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, in a letter to Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, said the regulator needs more access to independent schools.

Currently Ofsted assesses the work of inspectorates for independent schools, but said its ability was “seriously hampered” by the Department for Education (DfE) because the watchdog has only been granted access to a small number of inspections.

The education watchdog can only carry out checks of other inspectorates when commissioned to do so by the government — an event that has occurred only four times in the past three years.

Spielman wants Ofsted to be able to perform more unannounced checks of private school inspections and undertake termly checks on safeguarding.

In her letter, Ms Spielman said: “I am concerned that they [Ofsted’s reports into the inspectorates] are of increasingly limited value because Ofsted’s ability to monitor the work of the inspectorates is seriously hampered by the existing commissioning arrangements.” She went on to say “While many inspections are doubtless carried out to a high standard, the system is not currently configured so that any problems can be spotted and tackled, for example regarding potential safeguarding issues in the schools.”

Spielman went on to offer her recommendations as follows:

  • Identify and conduct increased unannounced on-site monitoring visits, to allow more evaluation of inspection practice
  • Identify and conduct evidence base reviews, so that inspection report findings can be corroborated with the evidence gathered
  • Carry out termly safeguarding focused checks, to verify that any safeguarding issues were followed up and reported on appropriately

Private schools are currently inspected by The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) who inspect schools that belong to the Independent Schools Council.

The School Inspection Service (SIS) inspects selected independent schools that are members of organisations including the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and the Cognita Group, where its schools do not belong to an Independent Schools Council association.


If you’re interested in potential changes to our children’s education, read our article on ‘Top schools drop the common entrance’.


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