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8 Ofsted tips

ofsted ghostCurrent trends identified in 25 Ofsted reports since sept 2015.

  • disclaimer  – Ofsted review every school on its merit. It’s purely coincidence that certain things pop up in inspection reports up and down the country.

This post explores similar areas for improvement identified in Ofsted reports from schools across the country at various levels of grading.

They are:

  • AFL – feedback with impact to be precise. Ofsted highlight a number of time in inspection reports that schools are not ‘good or outstanding’ yet because… feedback in learners books does not enable good progress.
  • Policy and practice – Consistency of policy and practice across departments. It’s one thing to have a marking & feedback policy (btw make sure it’s a marking AND feedback policy, not just marking) and it’s one thing to have some amazing examples of staff following said policy…but if that’s not consistent you’re going to struggle to get ‘Good’ I spotted this in numerous reports and each one Teaching and Learning came out with requiring improvement.
  • Low level disruption – learners distracting others, learners not focused on an individual outcome.
  • High Attainers not appropriately challenged – this featured in every report I’ve read since sept 2015. Higher attainers who are not being appropriately challenged featured as comments in all the reports and held schools back from moving from either good to outstanding or from achieving good (depending on other factors).

Ofsted ghost

So, key areas to make sure your school is doing right?

  • Feedback for learners – this doesn’t mean masses and masses of text, and it doesn’t mean students filling out pointless reflection slips. This means the teachers feedback related to improving work and an improvement was evident. Simple as that! (further tips)
  • Stretch and challenge (for all) good, simple and effective differentiation for all learners to challenge them at any ability level.
  • Consistent adherence to marking and feedback policies – if you want to ensure a policy is consistently followed then take you’re time to make sure it’s a sensible, realistic and easy to adhere to policy. Don’t write a policy you think will impress inspectors but creates a workload that’s unrealistic and unattainable for your teachers.
  • Behaviour for learning, set clear standards, procedures for handling low level disruption and follow them to the letter. Support staff in a realistic way.

Those are all fundamental areas of our jobs aren’t they?

And they’re not the kind of thing you should be implementing just to please an inspector! They’re things any really GOOD school will be doing anyway and will enjoy showcasing to inspectors.

Highlight these areas to review in the next 1/2 term is my advice.

Don’t be heavy handed but reflect on your school under these headings to test your readiness for an Ofsted inspection.

Would welcome comments on this post from teachers and leaders…and even Ofsted inspectors 👍


  1. Really useful, and reflects what is coming out through other avenues too. When you lose ok at it though the things you highlight are exactly what makes good schools good – feedback for progress, consistency, simple & clear policy, zero tolerance for low level disruption.

    • Thanks Ruth – consistency is key to all of these don’t you think? Get it right every time and you’re winning (that’s the battle for schools)

  2. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with consistency. We’ve worked really hard as a department to develop our feedback and the impact it has but does every member of staff do this? Across every department? Probably not. I’ve found that for marking to have the biggest impact I need to plan into my lessons when I’m going to do the marking and give the feedback but inevitably life happens and something disrupts the schedule!

    • So true – we plan and then things get in the way! The biggest hardest challenge is getting everyone to be consistent – and like you say so many things can disrupt the best laid plans 👍

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