Q: How does the inspection process check that the school engages with parents, and ensures they are kept up-to-date with any improvement and action plans since the last inspection?
A: Historically, inspections have involved parents in different ways. Earlier inspections contained not only questionnaires to each parent, but also a pre-inspection meeting in order to gauge their views.
There was an expectation that governors would report regularly to parents on the progress the school was making in achieving its post-inspection action plan. This made parents an integral part of the process.
The current inspection framework typically gives schools two days' notice of inspection, meaning that it is no longer practicable for inspectors to hold formal pre-inspection parents' meetings.
However, the self-evaluation form (SEF) for schools, which is an important part of the pre-inspection evidence for inspectors, includes a section that asks schools how they gather and act upon parents' views.
Schools are also required to distribute Ofsted's questionnaires to parents. These are an important source of information that can help to verify the school's self-evaluation picture. They can also raise issues for inspectors to explore during their time at the school.
Sometimes inspectors will talk to parents, perhaps informally, during an inspection. If parents feel ill-informed about school improvement, or how previous inspection issues have been followed up, and they raise this in questionnaires, then inspectors are likely to look into this. They may look, for example, at how the school has involved and communicated with parents.
In any event, you can always expect inspectors to look carefully at how the school has followed up on its previous inspection issues.
Q: My lesson was inspected last week and, although I got some brief feedback, I could see that the inspector had written quite a lot on his observation form. Can I ask the senior leadership team for a copy or is that not the way things are done?
A: The school will not have copies of inspectors' evidence forms. These are retained by Ofsted for a limited period. They are destroyed usually three months after the inspection.
Selwyn Ward draws on years of inspection experience. The views expressed here are his own. To ask him a question, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.