Inspectorate for top private schools broke its own rules, Ofsted warns

Schools were judged as meeting leadership and management standards despite inspectors observing otherwise

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The body charged with inspecting many of England's top independent schools has failed to follow its own guidance, an audit by Ofsted has revealed.

Ofsted found problems in reports compiled by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), which oversees standards at schools including Eton, Harrow and Cheltenham Ladies' College.

Out of 11 ISI reports checked by Ofsted, two had judged that the school’s leadership and management met the independent school standards – despite the fact that ISI inspectors had judged the school to be not meeting at least one standard.

In a report published today, Ofsted writes: "In both inspections, the failings that the inspectors had identified indicated that leadership and management were not compliant. Consequently, in each report, the overall judgement that the school met the standards relating to leadership and management was not in line with ISI’s guidance."

'Suitability' as an inspectorate

ISI carried out 415 inspections during the 2016-17 academic year. Ofsted is charged by the Department for Education with ensuring that these inspections are properly carried out and documented.

Overall, Ofsted found that the 11 reports it checked, in addition to two on-site visits it carried out, showed that safeguarding checks were "rigorous" and sufficiently detailed.

The two on-site inspections showed that ISI inspectors had adhered strictly to the ISI's code of conduct, Ofsted added.

However, Ofsted noted in a report published today: "Owing to the limited range of evidence from monitoring commissioned by the DfE, Ofsted is not able to make any recommendation as to ISI’s suitability for continued approval as an independent inspectorate."

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