Revealed: How Ofsted decides which providers to inspect

Ofsted has published its approach to risk assessment and how it decides which 'good' and 'outstanding' providers to inspect

Ofsted's risk-assessment for inspecting good providers revealed

Ofsted has revealed how it will be deciding whether or not to inspect "good" further education providers. 

The watchdog says that the new risk assessment will help to identify concerns about performance at "outstanding" providers.  

In September this year, education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that colleges and FE providers that have been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted will no longer be exempt from regular inspections.


News:  'Outstanding' FE providers to lose Ofsted exemption

Background: FE providers left for a decade without Ofsted inspection

Opinion: 'Ofsted's evidence base must include FE'


The decision came after recent statistics revealed that more some 52 providers had not been subject to a full inspection for more than 10 years.

The risk assessment has two stages: an assessment of each provider based on analysis of published data, and an in-depth desk-based review on a wider range of information. 

Stage one

The risk assessment includes several measures of a provider’s performance – and that of any subcontractors) includes:

  • Achievement rate data
  • Value-added score
  • English and maths GCSE, and functional skills data 

Providers are only compared against similar institutions: for example, independent learning providers are not compared with sixth-form colleges. Policy colleagues agree the most appropriate qualifications and measures for each provider. 

Additional information is also incorporated and taken into account. For example:

  • The views of learners and employers, gathered through online questionnaires.

  • Funding agency information such as minimum standards of performance and any interventions.

  • Findings of monitoring visits.

Inspectors also consider, the size and complexity of the provider (including the number and range of provision types), complaints about the provision, any chance to leaders or structures at the provider, the geographical spread of education and training centres, and any other recent changes. 

Each provider is given either a red, amber or green flag. 

Stage two

Senior Ofsted inspectors within each region will then review the above information. They’ll also use regional intelligence to support the risk assessment. 

Data and policy teams consider all of the finds and then finalise the list of providers to receive a risk-based inspection in the following academic year. 

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