Is this a good school? How can I cut through the statistics?

In England, Ed Balls’ “Department for Children, Schools and Families” previously published around 60 statistics in the annual performance data files, but Michael Gove’s “Department for Education” releases 240 columns in their mammoth statistical publications. Such a wealth of information is perfect when you’re targeting schools based on their achievement at subject level or if the improvement of specific groups (i.e. looked-after children or low attainers) are of interest, but what if you want a one-word assessment?

While ‘inspection’ may be a dirty word to many schools, they do offer a snapshot of organisations and present a summary of how that school or college rates by current standards. There are separate inspectorates for each of the home nations:

England – Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
Scotland – Education Scotland
Wales – Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn)
Northern Ireland – Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI)

The inspection of international schools is far less rigid so please contact us to discuss how you could incorporate this information into your next global campaign.

UK Schools Inspections

Ofsted (England)
Inspection reports for schools in England are made up of a description of the school, the inspectors’ observations and one of four grades (1 – outstanding; 2 – good; 3 – requires improvement; and 4 – inadequate) in specific areas:

  • Overall Effectiveness
  • Achievement of Pupils
  • Behaviour and Safety of Pupils
  • Quality of Teaching
  • Leadership and management

Ofsted usually gives 24 hours’ notice of an inspection and publishes reports on their website two-to-four weeks after completion and in combined quarterly data files in March, June, September and December.

Education Scotland
Inspection reports in Scotland take the form of a summary letter to parents and carers and then an ‘additional evidence’ document containing questionnaire analysis and grades (1 – excellent; 2 – very good; 3 – good; 4 – satisfactory; 5 – weak; and 6 – unsatisfactory) in five areas:

  • Improvements in Performance
  • Children’s Experiences
  • Meeting Learning Needs
  • The Curriculum
  • Improvement Through Self-evaluation

Education Scotland gives early years settings and primary schools two weeks’ written notification of inspections, while secondary schools receive notification and questionnaires three weeks before the inspectors arrive.

Estyn (Wales)
Up until September 2010 Welsh schools were assessed against 7 “Key Questions”:

  • KQ1 – How well do learners achieve?
  • KQ2 – How effective are Teacher Training & Assessment?
  • KQ3 – How well do the learning experiences meet the needs & interests of learners & the wider community?
  • KQ4 – How well are learners cared for guided & supported?
  • KQ5 – How effective are Leadership & Strategic Management?
  • KQ6 – How well do leaders and managers evaluate & improve quality and standards?
  • KQ7 – How efficient are learners & managers in using resources?

From September 2010 that criteria changed to just 3 Key Questions:

  • KQ1 – How good are outcomes?
  • KQ2 – How good is provision?
  • KQ3 – How good are leadership & management?

Estyn’s annual report details a description of the school, the inspectors’ observations and one of four grades (1 – excellent; 2 – good; 3 – adequate; and 4 – unsatisfactory) to assess the school’s ‘current performance’ and ‘prospects for improvement’.

Estyn gives four weeks’ written notification of inspections and publishes the schedule on its website. Individual reports are then published 10 weeks after inspection and produced as a summary in the annual report.

ETI (Northern Ireland)
Inspection reports for schools in Northern Ireland are made up of a description of the school, the inspectors’ observations, staff and parent questionnaires and one of six grades (1 – outstanding; 2 – very good; 3 – good; 4 – Satisfactory; 5 – Inadequate; and 6 – unsatisfactory) in three main areas:

  • Achievement and Standards
  • Quality of Provision
  • Leadership and management

The ETI publishes individual reports one month after inspection, but no compiled results are published.

Ofsted and Estyn inspection report grades are available in our Spirit schools database.