The Education Inspection Framework (EIF) will replace the Common Inspection Framework (CIF). The EIF covers maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools, further education (FE) and skills providers, and registered early years settings.

While many aspects of the inspection system remain, Ofsted has made significant changes to the inspection framework and inspection arrangements. This guidance outlines the key changes and important points in the EIF and inspection handbooks. The briefing also outlines the NASUWT’s position on inspection and actions that NASUWT members should take in relation to inspection.

Teacher workload and wellbeing

  • Inspectors will consider the extent to which school and college leaders take account of the workload and wellbeing of staff.
  • Inspectors will consider whether the resources that teachers select create unnecessary workload for staff.
  • ‘Good’ and ‘outstanding’ leaders and managers must demonstrate that they are aware of and take account of the pressures on staff and that they are realistic and constructive in the way they manage staff, including their workload.
  • Inspection judgements of ‘outstanding’ leadership and management require that staff consistently report high levels of support for wellbeing issues.
  • The evaluation of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ leadership and management includes the criterion that leaders protect staff from bullying and harassment.

Changes to the key inspection judgements

  • Inspectors will make key judgements about: quality of education; personal development; behaviour and attitudes; and leadership and management.
    • ‘Quality of education’ replaces the judgement ‘quality of teaching learning and assessment’.
    • ‘Personal development’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’ replace the single judgement ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’.
    • Short (section 8) inspections will pay particular attention to the quality of education and to safeguarding.

‘Quality of education’ and inspecting the curriculum

  • Inspectors will pay particular attention to the curriculum when evaluating the quality of education. They will focus on intent (what is intended to be learned), implementation (how well the curriculum is taught and assessed), and the impact of the curriculum on learners.
    • Education providers do not need to do specific work to prepare for the new inspection arrangements. However, Ofsted acknowledges that providers may want to review their curriculum in light of the changes. As a result, 2019/20 will be treated as a transition year. Inspectors will make allowances for providers that are reviewing curriculum intent as long as leaders can demonstrate that they are taking actions to bring this about.
    • Inspectors will pay close attention to the coherence of the curriculum and to how well it is sequenced.
    • There is no ‘Ofsted curriculum’ and Ofsted does not advocate a particular curriculum approach.
    • All learners should have a broad and balanced curriculum.
    • Inspectors will look for evidence that the curriculum is adapted, designed and developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of all learners, including learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
    • Inspectors will recognise and credit radically different approaches to the curriculum if leaders are able to show that the curriculum has been carefully thought about, with appropriate coverage, content, structures and sequencing, and is implemented effectively.

Internal progress and attainment data

  • Inspectors will only look at statutory national assessment data during section 5 and section 8 inspections of schools. They will not look at internal progress and assessment data. However, inspectors will be interested in the conclusions that schools draw from internal data and the actions that they take as a result.
  • Inspectors will not look at predicted in-year achievement and attainment data in FE provision. Further, they will not look at internal progress and attainment data on GCSE and A level courses.
  • Inspectors will evaluate how assessment is used to support the teaching of the curriculum and not to substantially increase teachers’ workloads, e.g. through too much one-to-one teaching.
    • The quality of education judgements for ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ require inspectors to evaluate whether leaders understand the limitations of assessment and do not assess in ways that create unnecessary burdens for staff or learners.
  • Schools choosing to use more than two or three data collection points a year should have clear reasoning for:
    • what interpretations and actions are informed by the frequency of collection; and
    • the time taken to set assessments, collate, analyse and interpret the data collected, and then act on the findings. [1]
  • If a school’s system for data collection is disproportionate, inefficient or unsustainable for staff, inspectors will reflect this in their reporting of the school. [2]
    • This reflects the recommendations of the Teacher Workload Advisory Group Report, Making data work.

Inspecting behaviour and attitudes

  • Inspectors will consider whether leaders, teachers and practitioners have high expectations for learners and implement these consistently and fairly and whether this is reflected in learners’ behaviour.
  • Inspectors will consider whether the school or college deals with incidents of bullying and harassment of learners and staff swiftly and effectively or whether they tolerate bullying and harassment.
  • Inspectors will talk to groups of staff who may be most likely to witness or experience harassment, bullying and/or poor behaviour, e.g. supply teachers, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and catering staff.
  • School inspectors will look at the experiences of a sample of pupils. This may include pupils with SEND, medical needs and/or mental health needs. Inspectors may look at referrals and multi-agency support. In the case of pupils with SEND, inspectors will consider whether reasonable adjustments have been made in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and the SEND Code of Practice.


  • ‘Off-rolling’ is the practice of removing pupils from school without a formal permanent exclusion or encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll. This is illegal.
  • Inspectors will look for evidence of ‘off-rolling’.
  • Schools are expected to have an inclusive culture. This includes early identification of need and providing specialist support to enable pupils to engage positively with the curriculum.

Leadership and management

  • Inspectors will consider the extent to which leaders engage with staff and take account of the main pressures on them.
    • ‘Good’ and ‘outstanding’ leaders and managers engage with their staff and are aware of and take account of the pressures on staff. They are realistic and constructive in the way they manage staff, including their workload. [3]
    • ‘Outstanding’ school and college leaders ensure that highly effective and meaningful engagement takes place with staff at all levels and issues are identified. Where issues are identified, in particular about workload, they are dealt with consistently, appropriately and quickly. [4]
  • Inspectors will consider how leaders support and develop staff.
    • ‘Good’ and ‘outstanding’ leaders focus on improving teachers’ content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in order to enhance the teaching of the curriculum and appropriate use of assessment. The practice and subject knowledge of staff build and improve over time.
    • ‘Outstanding’ school and college leaders ensure that teachers receive focused and highly effective professional development. Teachers’ subject, vocational, technical, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge is consistently built and developed over time and this translates into improvements in the teaching of the curriculum.
  • ‘Good’ or ‘outstanding’ leaders and managers protect staff from bullying and harassment.

Performance management in schools

  • Ofsted does not require schools to set teachers’ performance targets based on commercially produced predictions of pupil achievement, or any other data set, from which it would hold teachers to account.
  • Ofsted does not require schools to include targets relating to the proportion of good or better teaching in headteacher objectives. 

Pre-inspection preparation and schools

  • The lead inspector will have a conversation with the headteacher before the inspection. This is likely to last around 90 minutes. The conversation will be an educationally focused conversation about the school’s progress since the last inspection. It will also focus on practical and logistical issues.

Length of inspections

  • Full inspections of schools (section 5 inspections) will normally last two days.
  • Full inspections of further education provision will normally last between two and five days, depending on the size of provision.
  • Short inspections of ‘good’ schools and non-exempt ‘outstanding’ schools will normally last two days. However, in the case of very small primary or nursery schools with fewer than 150 pupils, short inspections will last one day.
  • Short inspections of FE provision will normally last two days.
  • Monitoring visits will normally last one or two days, depending on the size of provision.

Time between inspections

  • Short inspections of ‘good’ and non-exempt ‘outstanding’ schools will normally take place every four years.
  • The law requires that a school that is subject to a section 5 inspection is inspected at least every five years.

The NASUWT’s position

The NASUWT believes that as publicly funded institutions, it is right that schools are accountable. The Union considers an effective accountability system to be one that:

  • enables teachers to teach more and test less;
  • evaluates the quality of public education rather than simply measuring the performance of individual schools or colleges;
  • is fit for purpose, secures public trust and confidence in education, and greater parental and public engagement in and support for public education; and
  • is driven by educational rather than political concerns.

Inspection forms one part of a school and provider accountability system that is high stakes and punitive. As a result, inspection is likely to continue to drive practice in many schools and colleges.

Many of the problems that NASUWT members encounter are not due to the inspection framework or guidance in the handbooks per se, but arise because individual inspectors and school leaders interpret the framework and guidance in ways that were not intended.

The NASUWT will continue to monitor inspections and practice in schools closely in order to identify and challenge issues robustly.



Teachers, leaders and NASUWT Representatives should follow the Ofsted complaints procedure if specific issues arise during inspection.

Teachers and school leaders should report concerns about inspection to the NASUWT via our Ofsted Inspection Survey. The NASUWT will use this information to identify issues and trends and will raise particular concerns with senior Ofsted officials.

Teachers and school and college leaders should contact their NASUWT Representative if they have concerns that their school is using inspection to justify implementing inappropriate policies and practices.

[1] Ofsted, School inspection handbook: Handbook for inspecting schools in England under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 (May 2019, updated November 2019), paragraph 188.
[2] Ibid, paragraph 188.
[3] Ofsted, School inspection handbook (May 2019, updated November 2019), paragraph 278; and Ofsted, Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook (July 2019), paragraph 222.
[4] Ofsted, School inspection handbook (May 2019, updated November 2019), paragraph 277; and Ofsted , Further Education and Skills Inspection Handbook (July 2019), paragraph 221.