Ofsted Inspection – The Initial Phone Call

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Inspections are incredibly daunting. This blog has been taken from Preparing for an Ofsted Inspection by Tim Nelson. It looks at the steps to take from the initial phone call. You can see sample pages or purchase the book here.

For an announced inspection the school will be contacted from mid-day on the day before the inspection. The inspection support administrator will contact the school to notify them of the inspection and arrange for the lead inspector to then phone the headteacher or principal.

Although this is short notice, the notification period should enable the principal/head teacher and other key personnel to be on site for the inspection.

Remember: This is the first contact between the setting and the lead inspector.
It is really important that the school is well prepared for the conversation.
First impressions count!

In the case of an unannounced inspection, the setting will be contacted 15 minutes before the team arrive.

The Initial Phone Call

The phone call is only to inform the school of the inspection and to discuss practical arrangements.

Ofsted will normally contact the school by telephone to announce the inspection during the afternoon of the working day before the inspection.

During the initial notification phone call, the inspection support administrator will check:

  • the number of pupils on roll at the school
  • the governance arrangements for the school
  • whether the school has any SEN or additional resource provision.

If the headteacher is unavailable when the notification call is made, Ofsted will ask to speak to the most senior member of staff available. Once Ofsted has informed the school by telephone that the inspection will take place, it will send confirmation to the school by email.

During that phone conversation with the headteacher or principal the lead inspector will :

  • make the school aware of its statutory duty to inform parents of the inspection and that Parent View is the main vehicle for gathering the views of parents at the point of inspection; inspectors should remind the school that Ofsted’s letter to parents containing the link to Parent View may be sent electronically as well as a paper copy sent via pupils
  • If the school has an SEN resource base, the lead inspector will discuss the nature of this resource in more detail
  • Establish whether the school has any pupils who attend off-site alternative provision, either full-time or part-time. Inspectors must ask the school about the registration status of any alternative providers that they use. Any provider of alternative provision must be registered as an independent school if it caters full-time for five or more pupils of compulsory school age, or one such pupil who is looked after, has an education, health and care (EHC) plan or has a statement of special educational needs.
  • Discuss any off-site units that cater for pupils with behaviour or attendance difficulties either run by the school or in partnership with other schools
  • make arrangements for the inspection; this includes an invitation to the headteacher or principal to participate in observations of teaching and learning and to observe the main inspection team meetings
  • make arrangements for meetings with key staff
  • establish what the governance structure of the school or academy is, including with reference to the constitution, and make arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body and as many governors as possible, and request that as many governors as possible are also present at the final feedback meeting
  • request either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call with a representative from the local authority, academy chain, multi-academy trust board, sponsor or other relevant responsible body; this does not apply to stand-alone academy converters
  • request that, where appropriate, a representative from the local authority, academy chain, multi-academy trust board, sponsor or other relevant responsible body is present at the final inspection feedback meeting; this does not apply to stand-alone academy converters
  • request that relevant school documents are made available as soon as possible from the start of the inspection
  • provide an opportunity for the school to ask any questions.
  • establish whether the school is either providing support for other schools or receiving it. If so, inspectors should include this information, giving the names of the school(s), in the ‘information about the school’ section of the report. This should include any such activity over the previous 12 months. Where a school has received support from the leader of another school, it will be important to establish the extent and the impact of this, to determine whether that leader should be nominated for recognition by HMCI as an exceptional leader.

Preparing for limited notice Inspections

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Vicky Clayton

Vicky is the Creative Marketing Executive at Focus Education. She creates the lovely pictures and pulls together the blogs from the wisdom of our consultants.

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