How to read an OFSTED Report

How to read an OFSTED Report

OFSTED reports are standardised documents showing the ratings and recommendations from the last inspection carried out. Most people choose to focus on the overall score, a grading from 1 (Outstanding) to 4 (Requires Improvement). Some schools at level 4 can be placed in what is called Special Measures, but more on that later. This article is designed to explain how an OFSTED inspection report works and how to interpret its meaning. This will help you understand better how good your current school is, or if you are looking at moving schools, how good or otherwise other schools are.

Let’s take a look at the above OFSTED report carried out a couple of years ago and help interpret its meaning.

  1. The first piece of the report is the school’s name and address so we know we are dealing with the correct school.
  2. The second section of the report gets straight to the point and delivers the school’s score. Although in our example above there is only one rating, there will, in more established schools, be a previous inspection score as well as a current one. This allows the reader to see quickly and easily if the school has improved, got worse, or stayed broadly the same as the previous inspection. Inspections are generally held around every 3 years, with the school being given just a few days’ notice.
  3. The third section of the report gives a breakdown of how the overall score has been obtained. In this example, the school has achieved a 2 (Good) overall, however they have achieved a 1 in the leadership and management category. So, we can look at this section and compare two schools with the same overall OFSTED score in more detail to find out if they are at the top or bottom end of the category.
  4. The fourth section gives an explanation into why the school has been placed in that particular category. This section is one of the most interesting as it starts to go into a lot more depth about where the school achieved good results. This is the inspectors’ opportunity to accentuate the positives of the school and tell the OFSTED inspection reader what makes this school Good (or category 2).
  5. The final section of the report details what the school needs to do to move up to the next category. This again is useful for parents considering sending their children to the school to read, because it contains information about where the school is not doing so well. You can then decide if these problem areas are even concerns for you. It may be that the problem area is a particular subject, which you have no interest in, however quite often the improvement is recommended in behaviour control, which would be of interest to most parents. In our example the major criticism is that students aren’t being challenged enough and teachers aren’t preparing students for examinations adequately enough. They are most probably two ends of the same problem, but it gives us an insight into how close the school is to being outstanding.

OFSTED reports provide an invaluable insight into schools’ relative performance when used correctly. This guide is intended to help you understand properly how to read the report and how to apply it to your own decision making progress.

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