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Who are OFSTED and why are they so important?

07-28-2016 02:36 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: EdProcure

There is a lot of debate and some confusion surrounding OFSTED and its value in determining the quality of primary schools in the UK, so who exactly are OFSTED and what role do they play in telling parents the difference between local schools.

OFSTED are the Office for Standards in Education, and are a branch of the Department for Education within the government. They are responsible for defining levels of quality in schools, childcare facilities, teacher training and even adoption. Their breadth of responsibility is therefore immense making them a hugely important part of the education sector.

So how do OFSTED go about measuring the quality of primary schools? Well, there are 2 key things they do for each and every school – they conduct inspections; and they provide a report with a grade, much like students get graded on the quality of their own work.

The Inspection – when inspecting primary schools, the current OFSTED system requires them to visit for a period of 2 – 3 days which is generally carried out every 3 years or so. Although the school will therefore be aware of the general timing of an inspection, they will only be given a couple of days’ notice to prepare for the inspection, ensuring it is as fair and accurate as possible. Every school is treated in exactly the same manner making the system consistent between schools. Once the OFSTED inspection has taken place, the examiners will prepare a report which will then be published on their website for all to see.

Insert image of report

The Report – OFSTED grade schools on a sliding scale from 1 (Outstanding) to 2 (Good) to 3 (Satisfactory) and 4 (Inadequate). Within grade 4, the OFSTED inspectors also have the option to place the school into what are known as “Special Measures” meaning urgent improvement is required. In this instance, the next inspection will not wait 3 years, the school will instead be continually monitored to ensure the improvement is swift. Assistance is given to schools in special measures by local authority and OFSTED themselves to assist in bringing the school back up to a decent standard.

Each report details the score at the last inspection and the score at this one, so parents can see if the school is improving or getting worse. It also offers a series of pointers as to how the school can improve in order to reach the next grade up. This is important for parents to consider when choosing schools for their children as the scale only has 4 grades, yet the variance between schools can be much bigger than this. A pair of local schools, for example, which both have a grade of 2 won’t necessarily be exactly the same quality and standard. Within the report is the detail showing exactly what was good and bad about the school and why it isn’t in grade 1, which can give parents a much more detailed insight into which primary school is better for their child.

The power of OFSTED is obviously broad ranging and they provide an important service to UK schools and the parents of children which attend. They are the sole method parents have of gaining an independent view of a school; and being able to fairly compare one school against another.

Localprimaryschools.com have OFSTED reports available for every primary school in the UK so you can easily decide which school is best for your child in your local area.

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