When the phone rings and it’s Ofsted calling …

Although no-notice inspections have been trialled in a number of schools recently, the current practice is still for notice the day before. Hopefully, the phone call at midday from Ofsted will not be too much of a surprise for the school, who will be prepared for this moment and will have a plan of action ready. Here are two useful articles:

The Five Minute Call Plan and John Tomsett’s Preparing for Ofsted (see below)

See also extracts from the 2014 Ofsted Handbook :
1. Before your school gets the call 
2. They’re here, they’re here!
3. After the inspection

John Tomsett, headteacher, has written an account of how he is preparing for an Ofsted inspection. He says:

“Effective Governance is crucial. We had a full meeting dedicated to the headteacher briefing Governors on the story of the school for the past year. We focused on their role in setting the strategic direction of the school, our data story, the Performance Management process, the impact of our Pupil Premium spend, and the quality of teaching across the school and in departments.

Make the inspection as easy as possible for the inspectors. There is no point being anything other than fully cooperative. We have a page on our website for the Lead Inspector with hyperlinks to all the information we have to provide mandatorily on our website; it saves the Lead Inspector wasting time searching for it all. And set up a base room for the Inspection team with fresh cafetière coffee and fruit. I always think about the process from their point of view – it must be a pretty awful job at times.”

His blog includes a downloadable timeline document, which, with his kind permission, I have adapted slightly: ofsted-inspection-preparation-timeline-2013 (doc)

Think: When?  What?  Who?


  • Write progress since last inspection document
  • Make SLT and SL team aware of RAISE story
  • Keep whole school SEF document up-dated
  • Write SEF summary
  • Action – Subject Leaders: Keep Subject Data including SEFs up-dated
  • Action – Subject Leaders and SLT: Hold on-going Subject Leaders /SLT Line manager meetings half-termly
  • Monitor, Evaluate and Review SDP
  • Governors, SLT on-going; whole staff annually
  • Prepare OFSTED staff questionnaire
  • Write to parents regarding ParentView completion
  • Prepare OFSTED Parents’ Evening questionnaire feedback
  • Prepare guidance for staff for Training Day 25 Feb
  • Prepare copies of last inspection report, RAISE and LAT and distribute accordingly
  • Prepare statement to inform teachers that we’re being inspected
  • Prepare statement for teachers to read to students to inform them that we’re being inspected
  • Identify governors to have on stand-by, with any 3 to meet the Inspectors
  • HT to Brief whole Governing Body on OFSTED
  • Select a group of 9 governors/support staff/volunteer/ etc., parents to have on stand-by, with any 5 to meet Inspectors
  • Decide which students to meet the Inspection Team
  • Should anyone else be invited to meet Inspectors on the day?
  • Action – SLT: SLT to conduct lesson observations as part of PD; joint observations with Subject Leaders if possible
  • Devise Inspection activity tracking device!
  • All staff: All marking and assessment up-to-date
  • Prepare draft domestic arrangements for inspection team: where to house them; refreshments etc., etc.
  • Prepare basic operational documents, such as timetables etc., etc.
  • Action SLT: All filing to be done
  • Action SLT: Decide which core documents we need to have ready as evidence,
  • Prepare teachers’ OFSTED grading list
  • Ensure we know our data analysis story
  • Collate all A4 Success Case Studies
  • Action SLT and HT: Prepare document file to support SEF
  • Action – all staff: Staff to familiarise themselves with Lesson Progress Maps and Observation proforma
  • Brief key personnel in relation to possible inspection focus area
  • Establish whole school display team to make the  school look great
  • Action – all staff: Establish One-way system rigorously

(C2G note: Also, doublecheck that the Single Central Record is up to date)

Notification day

Take phone call and WRITE DOWN DETAILS! 1.00 pm

  • SEF position
  • CVs of inspectors
  • Logistics/Hypotheses/Requests

Notify SLT 1.10 pm

Notify Chair of Governors 1.10 pm

Meet with SLT immediately and free up afternoon for SLT as required 1.15 pm

Notify Governing Body on stand-by group 1.20 pm

NB Make sure Governors’ contact details are attached to your plan

Notify LA – 1.25 pm

Notify all staff at lunchtime; arrange after school briefing 1.30 pm

Send basic operational documents, such as timetables etc., etc. and key documents such as SEF to inspector 1.30 pm

Thorough litter pick of the site, 1.30 pm onwards

Fix 6.00 pm meeting with stand-by Governors to update them on SEF and SDP 1.30-2.00 pm

Fix 6.30 pm meeting with stand-by Parents to update them on SEF and SDP 1.30-2.00 pm

Meet with students, period 5

Full staff meeting after school to explain programme and final preparations. Distribute guidance for staff again and the staff questionnaire. Distribute Inspection activity tracking device! 3.45-4.00 pm

Action – All staff: Subject meetings after school to make final preparations; all Inspection lessons planned on Lesson Progress Maps proforma 4.00-5.00 pm

Action SLT: SLT to attend Subject meetings to support and speak to Subject Leaders to check SEF folders and evidence bases 4.00-5.00 pm

Meet with SLT at 5.00 pm to arrange:

  • Plan of the days & email to inspector
  • Check evidence base
  • Finalise Housekeeping arrangements
  • Agree no-go areas for inspectors

Finalise set of key documents 5.30 pm

  • The Plan of the inspection
  • Timetables

Meet with stand-by Governors to update them on SEF and SDP 6.00 pm

Meet with stand by Parents to update them on SEF and SDP, 6.30 pm

HT to “walk the school” with a critical eye with ….who?  7.00 pm

Inspection Day 1

Initial Meeting with HT/SLT

  • Confirm programme
  • Confirm housekeeping arrangements
  • Confirm meetings with: Governors; parents
  • Agree SLT shadow
  • Agree lesson observations
  • Agree interim feedback
  • Agree reporting back process
  • Agree when written draft will be received
  • Agree when it needs to be returned
  •  Agree how to negotiate amendments
  •  When will school receive final draft?
  • When will report be published?
  • Agree no-go areas

In-depth meeting with HT/SLT – first morning

  •  Keep notes of key points, especially judgements
  •  Check key points at end of meeting
  •  Challenge any issue you do not think is accurate and back up challenge with evidence
  • Agree time of feedback at end of day

Meeting with Governors

  • Chair is in charge of meeting
  •  3-6 governors plus HT
  • Keep notes of key points, especially judgements
  • Check key points at end of meeting
  • Challenge any issue you do not think is accurate and back up challenge with evidence

Meeting with students

  • School has some say over which students
  • Should be introduced to inspectors
  • Should know about school priorities

Someone to debrief with them afterwards

Meeting with Parents

  • Make sure they are briefed on key issues
  • Make sure they feedback to us

Collation of observation feedback/judgements

Inspection Day 2

As programme

Post Inspection Day 1

Draft report sent to school: Action SLT: SLT & 3 Governors check factual accuracy

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