Nobody would be naive enough to suggest that, if things are not well within the school, they can be patched up over the two days of an inspection to get a better outcome. The Education Inspection Framework is specifically designed to check out all aspects of the school’s provision and impact over time. However, there are, without a doubt, some things that leaders can do to manage the on-site inspection and to make the process less stressful for all concerned.

Here are some tips on managing the inspection

Have key member present

The inspection starts with the ’90 minute’ conversation. Think carefully about who you want to be part of this discussion – as long as you let the lead inspector know that they’re on speakerphone and who’s present, they should be happy to talk to the wider SLT. Plan this carefully. It can be really helpful to have colleagues who lead on particular areas present in the discussion (mini whiteboards and post-it notes are also helpful), but too many and it can become ‘noisy’ and difficult to manage. Decide who the key players are and have them there, and make sure that the headteacher chairs the discussion from the school’s end and invites people to speak.


There may well be a degree of negotiation around which areas will be the focus for a deep dive. Decide in advance which subjects you would want to put forward. Remember that you want to be able to demonstrate clear curriculum planning (intent), but that you also want to show consistency of teaching and delivery in the classroom. Inspectors will be extremely interested in equity of experience for all pupils and knowing that all staff have a shared understanding of the powerful knowledge that pupils need to be successful in the subject.

Planning the deep dives

Think carefully about how you will manage the afternoon immediately after the phone call – there will be a lot to do. The lead inspector will send over an outline timetable, but leaders will need to populate the detail. Think about what lessons are available in each deep dive area and where it would be best to guide inspectors. The teaching and learning leader and the person who leads on the timetable and knows it well may be best placed to plan this. Think about senior and middle leader timetables – most inspectors will be flexible about who joins them for particular discussions or lesson visits, so who would you most want to be part of the inspection process? Consider as well how to inform pupils and staff. A staff briefing for all at the end of the day is essential but think about what additional guidance and support those involved in the deep dives might need. In terms of informing pupils It might be that a Teams briefing in all lessons towards the end of the day might be most efficient.

The importance of safeguarding

Remember to inform staff that safeguarding cuts through all aspects of any inspection and that anyone, at any time, could be asked a question about safeguarding processes and training.

Arrange facilities

Make sure the inspectors have a team room in which to meet. Think carefully about its location: not, for example, in a room off a busy corridor where it will be easy for them to see examples of high-spirited pupil behaviour. They will need facilities to make their own hot drinks as they will not want to be interrupted. They will also need an individual room for meeting with curriculum leaders, staff at the end of the day etc.

Gather documentation

The inspection handbook states very clearly what documentation needs to be available at the start of day one. Make sure that these are ready in good time. Inspection is a fast-paced process and inspectors have to collect evidence very rapidly so make sure they’re not waiting for information unnecessarily.

Be ready for day one

Day one will be heavily focused on deep dives. Inspectors are most likely to identify pupils that they want to speak to later about the curriculum while in lessons. Think about how those pupils will be informed and where they will meet. However, inspectors will also want to meet with a wider range of pupils about personal development, safeguarding etc., so have class lists available, possibly highlighting those pupils who have special education needs or disabilities and those who are disadvantaged or looked after.

Analyse progress

It makes sense if the headteacher requests that any leader who has undertaken any part of the inspection process meets with them as soon as possible afterwards to give feedback. The headteacher will probably be the leader who has least part to play in the majority of inspection activities, so it makes sense for them to collect as much information as possible about how things appear to be going. The lead inspector will hold regular keeping in touch meetings with the headteacher, so it is helpful to know by then if staff have any concerns or if there may be any areas which they might like to request that inspectors explore in more detail.

Be prepared for deep dive follow up conversations

At the end of day one, teachers from deep dive subject areas will be invited to speak with inspectors. This has nothing to do with giving feedback. It’s an extension of the inspection activities and they will be asked about curriculum sequencing, subject pedagogy, professional development support and workload. Make sure they are prepared for this.

Take notes

At the end of each day, the headteacher will be invited to attend the inspectors’ meeting as an observer. They will usually be invited to take one other person in with them, so think carefully about who this should be. Take detailed notes of the discussion so that you can ask questions when invited and so that you have day one notes to refer back to on day two. They do not necessarily revisit all the previous day’s discussion at the final team meeting, so it is useful to have your notes to refer back to if anything seems to have been missed or changed when they get around to finalising judgements.

Voice any concerns immediately

Most importantly, if you have any concerns or questions, alert the lead inspector straight away. It’s easier to solve problem while they are on site rather than once the inspections finished.


B11 Education have been supporting schools across the UK with their preparations for inspection for more than a decade. We are ready to support you in your readiness for Ofsted whenever you require. We invite you to view our full range of services or contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.



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