Inspections of Settings and Local Area

Ofsted inspects educational settings to improve practice. There is a requirement to show that all pupils are making progress.  When making their judgements inspectors must consider pupils with SEND and the extent to which the education provided meets their needs. During an Ofsted inspection the focus will be on the vulnerable pupils and the pupils who are underachieving or not making expected progress. Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) and Inclusion Managers are important contributors and so it is vital that they are ready for an inspection. There will be a need to be clear, with regard to SEND, on what the whole school/college/setting is doing, how it is being done and why it is being done. 


Inspections of Registered Early Years Providers

Once a provider is registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register, Ofsted carries out regular inspections to evaluate the overall quality and standards of its early years provision in line with the principles and requirements of the 'Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework'.  

Providers on the Early Years Register will normally have their setting inspected at least once within a four year cycle. Newly registered providers will normally be inspected within 30 months of their registration date. 

Inspectors will make the following judgements:

  • overall effectiveness
  • the quality of education
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • personal development
  • leadership and management

Inspectors use a four-point scale to make all judgements.

  • grade 1: outstanding
  • grade 2: good
  • grade 3: requires improvement
  • grade 4: inadequate

The Early Years inspection handbook for Ofsted registered  provision can be read here (external link).

Maintained Schools 

There are two types of inspection of maintained schools:

  1. Section 5 is a full inspection. It means that the school is being inspected under Section 5 of the Education Act 2005
  2. Section 8 inspections are carried out for a range of purposes. It means that the school is being inspected under Section 8 of the Education Act 2005

The school inspection handbook explains how Ofsted conducts inspections and the judgements inspectors make under section 5 inspections. Find the handbook here (external link). It contains the grade descriptors inspectors use when making their judgements. Read the school inspection handbook: section 8 to find out how Ofsted carry out inspections of good schools (external link).

The education inspection framework sets out the statutory basis for schools inspected under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 (as amended). Find the education inspection framework here (external link). 

Section 8 inspections are carried out for good and non-exempt outstanding schools that have not been otherwise selected for a Section 5 inspection.

Section 8 inspections might also take place as monitoring inspections for schools that require improvement, monitoring inspections for schools judged inadequate, inspections with no formal designation and unannounced behaviour inspections.  Non-exempt outstanding schools are special schools, pupil referral units and nurseries that have been previously judged as ‘outstanding’.  

Independent Schools

Ofsted also inspects non-association independent schools.  All non-association independent schools will have a ‘standard inspection’ within 3 years from September 2018. Standard inspections are carried out under our education inspection framework (EIF) and the Independent School Standards.

Other independent schools who are members of the Associations of the Independent Schools Council (ISC) are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). The ISI Framework for Inspection is available here (external link). 

What areas do Ofsted inspect?

Ofsted regularly reviews the framework for inspection.  However, under the current framework, inspectors use a four-point scale to make judgements about these areas:

  • the quality of education
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • personal development
  • leadership and management

The grades that Ofsted award are:

  • 1 (outstanding)
  • 2 (good)
  • 3 (requires improvement)
  • 4 (inadequate)

A judgement of the overall effectiveness of the school will be given. 

Local Area Inspections

In May 2016, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), started a new type of joint inspection. 

Children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (or both) often receive a number of different services. Under the Children and Families Act 2014, the government placed new duties on the local health, social and education services that provide for these children and young people. The SEND Code of Practice reflects these duties. In particular, the local area health, social and education services need to work together to:  

  • publish a ‘local offer’ setting out the support and provision in the area for children and young people and young adults with special educational needs or disabilities (or both)  
  • provide accessible information to children and young people, as well as parents and carers, about the services and support available in the local area  
  • work with children and young people , their parents and carers, and service providers to make sure that any special needs or disabilities (or both) are identified as early as possible  
  • assess (in cooperation with children and young people and their parents and carers) the needs of children and young people  with special educational needs or disabilities (or both) who may need an education, health and social care plan (EHCP) 
  • produce an EHCP for all children and young people  who are assessed as needing one (all relevant agencies should cooperate to do this and involve the children and young people and their parents and carers), and  
  • provide children and young people  with the support agreed in their EHCP, and regularly review their plans. 

Ofsted and CQC inspect local areas to ensure that the requirements of the Children and Families Act are being implemented effectively. They are required to carry out their work in ways that encourage the services they inspect and regulate to improve, be user-focused and be efficient and effective in their use of resources. These inspections provide an independent external evaluation of how well a local area carries out its statutory duties in relation to children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities in order to support their development. The inspection reviews how local areas support these children and young people to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes, such as being able to live independently, secure meaningful employment and be well prepared for their adult lives. Therefore, although these inspections are designed to hold local areas to account, they also intend to assist local areas in improving and developing their processes and support systems in order that local areas become more effective and deliver better outcomes for children and young people. 

The Local Area inspection process

Over the course of the inspection, inspectors will meet managers and leaders from the area’s education, health and social care services and look at young people’s case files. They will review the support provided by the local area for some individual children and young people  to better understand how well the local area meets its responsibilities overall.  They will also visit early years settings, schools, further education providers and specialist services. During these visits, inspectors will also spend time speaking to children, young people and their parents or carers. 

How will inspectors report the findings? 

At the end of the inspection, the inspection team will evaluate all the evidence gathered. Ofsted and the CQC will write a joint inspection outcome letter. The letter will explain the main findings and make recommendations for improvement. It will also highlight any strengths that inspectors identify to help other services and areas develop and improve. 

These letters will be published on: (external link)  CQC website: (external link).

Sutton’s Local Area SEND Ofsted/CQC inspection 

Ofsted and the CQC inspected Sutton’s Local Area services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in January 2018 and decided improvements were required in the local area and that Sutton required a Written Statement of Action (WSOA).  Between 2-4 March 2020, inspectors from Ofsted and CQC re-inspected the areas of weakness identified in January 2018: they assessed services across the Council, Health and Cognus, the provider of core education services in the borough, as well as gathering feedback from parents, carers, young people and providers such as schools and decided Sutton had made “sufficient progress” in all three areas identified in the SEND Local Area Inspection. Therefore, Sutton's Local Area no longer required a WSOA.  Please read the SEND Ofsted/CQC inspection.

SEND Improvement Partnership (SIP) previously SEND Continuous Improvement Programme (SCIP)

Work on improving services and outcomes for children and young people with SEND continues through the SEND Improvement Parthnership (SIP). The programme is governed through the SIP Executive Board. This board facilitates  joint decision making between the Council and CCG on the SEND Continuous Partnership (SIP). The SIP Executive Board provides a forum to discuss and make decisions on

  • the strategic impact of the changes that will happen in Sutton’s Local Area as part of the SEND Continuous Improvement Programme
  • monitoring and review of performance data relating to the outcomes for children and young people with SEND
  • the strategic direction and ensures multi-agency scrutiny
  • the group also champions co-design and co-production with parents, young people and between partners.




05/10/2021, 09:41:47