Ofsted’s ‘School inspection handbook’ 2018 sets out the main activities carried out during an inspection, as well as the evaluation criteria used to make a judgement of a school.In conjunction with the Common Inspection Framework (2015), the handbook sets out the statutory basis for school inspections conducted under the Education Act 2005.
The contents of the handbook apply to all schools in England that are inspected under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.The handbook is primarily used by inspectors, but is also used by schools to ensure they are informed about the process and procedures for an inspection.
Schools inspected under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 are inspected ‘within five school years from the end of the school year in which the last inspection took place’.
Maintained schools and academies judged ‘outstanding’ in overall effectiveness at their most recent section 5 inspection are exempt from inspection under section 5 – these schools are inspected under section 8 of the Education Act 2005 instead.
Where an exempt school subsequently makes structural changes, such as adding a new key stage or amalgamating with another school, the school will receive a section 8 no formal designation inspection.
If sufficient concerns regarding performance are raised by Ofsted during a risk assessment, the school will receive a section 8 ‘no formal designation’ inspection.
If, during the inspection, the lead inspectors find that the school’s overall effectiveness has declined to less than ‘good’, the section 8 inspection may be deemed as a section 5 inspection.
Special schools, PRUs and maintained nursery schools judged outstanding in their overall effectiveness are not exempt, and so are inspected in line with section 5 of the Education Act 2005 and the five-year interval.