The role of a nominee in an Ofsted inspection – Preparing and planning

If you have been following our recent blog series for Apprenticeship Training Providers over the last few weeks, we hope you have found How Can a Provider Best Prepare for a NPMV and Preparing for a Full Ofsted Inspection as an Apprenticeship Training Provider useful. Last week we also published the part one of The Role of a Nominee in an Ofsted Inspection. Today, we have part two for you, focusing on what to do to prepare and plan for inspection as well as providing a useful checklist that you can use to make sure you have everything as under control as can be.


  • Ensure that a current self-assessment is available – when was it produced? Do you need a more recent position statement?
  • Have recommendations from the previous inspection or monitoring report been acted upon?
  • Gather evidence re the way the provider managed Covid-19
  • Ensure the Principal or CEO has prepared a brief presentation – no more than 10 minutes – that sets the scene and identifies the key strategic issues
  • Are training rooms inspection ready? Is good use being made of wall space to create a stimulating learning environment?
  • Ensure that you and the managers are familiar with the Educational Inspection Framework
  • Ensure that communication channels are set up so that the nominee can quickly gather information regarding emerging issues
  • Ensure that trainers, assessors, managers, support staff, governors, employers, apprentices and subcontractors are ready. Do trainers and managers understand the main aspects of the SAR and QIP? Are curriculum managers and teachers/trainers clear about their curriculum intent. Can curriculum managers and teachers/ trainers explain the rationale behind the sequencing of their curriculum?
  • Guide the principal / CEO on preparing the initial briefing to the inspection team.
  • Ensure that all the key documentation is readily available, e.g. key safeguarding policies and procedures, are all relevant DBS checks undertaken, has HR good evidence that it operates safe recruitment of staff
  • Ensure that there is good evidence that the ‘Prevent’ agenda is being covered

Preparation – inspection practicalities

  • Car park arrangements for inspectors
  • ID badges for inspectors?
  • Selecting and preparing a base room(s) – space with sufficient power points, refreshments
  • Wi-fi for inspectors
  • Key contact information during the inspection
  • Arrangements for allowing inspectors to access online systems, e-portfolios etc.
  • Arranging access to learners’ assessed work to be scrutinised
  • Timetables of courses – so that the ones needed for deep dives can be made readily available
  • Apprenticeship details – apprentice name, programme, contact details for apprentices and employers, timetable of assessments, reviews, learning scheduled.

Preparing your staff

  • Staff need to be clear about their role and questions that may be asked. Curriculum staff need to know their curriculum so that they help inspectors appreciate that their learners know more, can do more and remember more as a result of their progress on the course
  • Staff need to be honest – if they don’t know an answer to a question, they should not try and make up an answer. It is much better to state that they are not sure, but will gather the information ASAP and pass the information on later.
  • Staff need to attend any feedback meetings, online or in person, in order to be kept up to date with emerging issues
  • Staff need to know how to feedback to the nominee significant information after each event or activity honestly

Preparing a to-do list

Start constructing a to do list. What do you need to put in place? Who will do it? How will you monitor that the tasks have been completed? If you need help in this matter, download our checklist template!

Planning Call

  • An Ofsted administrator will contact you prior to call with the lead inspector (LI) two days before the inspection. Likely to be Friday before an inspection starting on a Tuesday, in the morning and you will be given details of how you can upload information to the Ofsted portal. Check the details on the portal re the inspection team.
  • The planning call with the LI will take place shortly after the administrator has been in touch. There may be a number of calls during that day as information is provided.
  • The LI will probably have an initial idea of the first deep dives that will be undertaken. You need to record this so that the key relevant managers, teachers, apprentices and employers can be informed
  • You may be asked for key information that may refine the deep dive selection – number of starts on each provision type and main curriculum areas. You may not have this to hand but will need to communicate this soon after the call
  • Details re English and mathematics
  • Overview of apprenticeship activity
  • The LI will ask if there are any conflicts of interest with the inspection team
  • The LI will ask about domestic arrangements, parking, base room(s)
  • The LI will go over the inspection team meetings and explain that a team briefing letter will be uploaded to the portal which will have the deep dive areas described and the inspectors allocated to them.
  • Geographical coverage of the apprentices.
  • Subcontractors?
  • Covid-19 arrangements and H&S. The LI will seek to understand the specific impact of COVID-19 on the provider and learners and how leaders and managers responded to the situation. The nominee and LI will agree safety protocols
  • This discussion may also explore how the provider implemented the curriculum remotely and what, if any, elements of remote education remain in place at the time of inspection
  • List of staff names that maybe subject to competency action
  • The LI may ask for a list of staff or courses that you are very keen to be visited
  • Any planned activities for that week – trips, open days, etc.
  • Once you know the deep dive areas you need to communicate this information to the managers, teachers, apprentices and employers.
  • You need to ensure that managers in these curriculum areas are very clear that the timetable presented to inspectors is accurate – no last-minute swaps of classrooms unless they are clearly communicated. Be careful with timetabling of practical sessions, where sometimes lessons are in a classroom and sometimes in a lab. Managers need to be encouraged to walk their patch to monitor behaviour in the corridors
  • You need to establish what is happening in the deep-dives areas chosen for the apprenticeship provision– apprentice name, programme, contact details for apprentices and employers, timetable of assessments, reviews, learning. If online assessing or reviews are taking place through, for example, Teams then information for invites for inspectors to these sessions need to be available.
  • Bear in mind that inspectors may drop into session not covered by the deep-dives curriculum areas. For example, the high needs inspector may visit a range of lessons that include high needs learners that are embedded within the mainstream curriculum.
  • Also, the LI may choose inspectors to undertake a deep dive theme such as punctuality which would go across curriculum areas

Managing the Inspection

  • You will attend the inspection meetings at the beginning and end of the day. There will be a keep in touch (KIT) meeting each subsequent morning. This will be an opportunity to present to the LI any additional information in relation to the emerging judgements presented the previous evening
  • You need to provide and coordinate any additional evidence required by inspectors in a timely manner
  • Ensure that the practical aspects you have prepared – such as base room details, wi-fi, access to e-portfolios, timetables, visitor’s badges, campus maps, etc. – are in place.
  • Ensure that the inspection activities planned run smoothly – communicate last minute issues as they arise to the LI such as staff absence.
  • Keep an eye on your team. Help them not to be too anxious.
  • Try and keep them positive and motivated when they may be very tired. A good approach is to emphasise that this is an opportunity to show ‘how good we are’.
  • Provide daily feedback to staff following the evening feedback meetings. Some colleges arrange a managers’ briefing after each evening feedback meeting. This can be very useful to communicate key themes that inspectors are looking at and help prepare staff. For example, if a weakness is emerging around checking of learning in the classroom, then managers can remind teachers to ensure that they are assessing learners appropriately.
  • Manage what is given to inspectors. Ideally all information should go through you so that you are happy with the quality.

Providing Challenge

  • Attend all of the team meetings to be able to suggest possible additional sources of evidence for making judgements, because the nature of deep dives means the evidence base tends to be narrow and deep. If you believe that an emerging judgement is based on very limited evidence, e.g. just a few learners, and you feel that this is not representative, then you need to be prepared to question the judgement by asking how many learners does this represent?
  • Be prepared to raise issues related to excessive duplication of requests, or unmanageable timeliness
  • You should be very clear about the emerging strengths and weaknesses before the grading meeting (probably on Friday morning. There should be nothing new and no surprises.
  • Query factual inaccuracies or disproportionate conclusions. You may say something like, ‘I’m sorry this is not how it is, I don’t recognise this – please review this again based on this additional evidence.’
  • Ask for clarification if it is not clear where a particular judgement is derived from. Be prepared to offer up additional evidence to counter a particular weakness – use the keep in touch (KIT) meetings to present this additional evidence
  • Take detailed notes during the feedback meetings
  • Raise emerging concerns to the LI as early as possible
  • Listen and confirm points made, request for additional information and conclusions drawn
  • Challenge when required but don’t be challenging – pick your battles.


Should you need immediate assistance in reviewing your provision, preparing for you NPMV/full inspection, or compiling your QIP, please do not hesitate to contact us to start a conversation.


Please share this post