The Complete Guide to the Ofsted Inspection Framework

There is so much confusion around the new OFSTED inspection framework, leaving many teachers (me included) confused about what we should be doing now.

What is the new OFSTED inspection framework? The new OFSTED framework has moved away from data-heavy inspections and now includes a judgment based on quality of education. This includes the 3 I’s; Intent (how the curricula is designed and sequenced), Implementation (how that curricula is taught) and Impact (the achievement of pupils).

We’ve all heard about the “Deep Dives” and the fear they seem to instil in teachers and leaders alike. But, are they that bad?

I decided to ask the resident Ofsted expert at, Rose Moss.

In this article she breaks it all down and I think that after reading it, you will have a clearer understanding of what to expect and the thoughts behind it.

Guidance on the New Ofsted Inspection Framework

Forever a source of fear and anxiety, Ofsted inspections have changed a lot over the years.

The most recent changes have brought about much media attention, school staff concerns and necessity for new preparations. Nonetheless, the new inspection framework is designed to take the onus off data and to allow a more tailored inspection which is more personal to the school itself.

What is the New Ofsted Framework?

Beginning in January 2019, Ofsted launched their consultation period on the new ‘Inspection Framework for Education Providers’.

By May 2019, plans were confirmed for this new framework.

Schools took part in trial inspections to iron out any issues or anomalies, and the new framework was scheduled to roll-out in September – including the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement.

What is the “Quality of Education” Judgement?

The idea behind the judgement was to move away from data-heavy inspections and give a more holistic view of schools (and therefore, hopefully, a fairer view!)

With a clearer focus on curriculum, Ofsted spent time collecting feedback from consultation schools and concerns arose around the implementation of this new judgement. This led to further changes within the framework.

Previously, different aspects of the delivery of the curriculum- based on high-quality education- were assessed towards the end of an inspection to reach an ‘Overall Effectiveness’ judgement.

However, this has now been replaced with the new ‘Quality of Education’ judgement, beginning with a conversation with the SLT about the curriculum before the inspection begins.

In the former inspection framework, a wide variety of sample activities were inspected across the school (teaching, assessment and work scrutiny).

This large cross-section would then be used to form the ‘Quality of Teaching’ and ‘Achievement of Pupils’ judgements.

Ofsted’s 3 I’s: Intent, Implementation and Impact

With the new framework, a focus on Intent (design and sequencing of curriculum), Implementation (through classroom teaching) and Impact (achievement of pupils) will be the priority, ensuring a more comprehensive view of the curriculum’s design and delivery.

This is to allow inspectors to really assess the quality of education that pupils are receiving.

As part of inspections before this new framework, school leaders would discuss children’s progress with the inspectors and use these discussions to inform their judgements regarding outcomes.

In the new framework, all steps are now connected and assessed together to form the ‘Quality of Education’ judgement (including assessment of the curriculum, teaching, assessments and standards).

This, again, provides a more comprehensive view of the teaching and quality of education for inspectors to judge.

The Dreaded Deep Dives

The biggest difference with the new framework – which seems to have sparked the most controversy – is the introduction of deep dives.

Moving away from evidence collected from various lessons, subjects and topics over the course of the inspection, inspectors will now perform deep dives into reading, often math, and 4-6 further subjects.

This will include observations, interviews, work scrutiny and document reviews.

They will include an evaluation of the senior leaders’ intent for the specific subject as well as their understanding of the implementation and impact.

Curriculum leaders’ intent will be assessed through long and medium-term planning and the rationale behind content choices and lesson sequencing will be looked at.

In keeping with making sure inspections are more specific to the schools, there are adaptations for specific scenarios.

Deep Dives in Small Schools

In schools with less than 150 pupils for example, the inspections will be adapted to reflect this, taking into account lesser staff and more subjects to lead.

Deep Dives in Secondary

In secondary schools, samples will be taken of around five subjects with a large sample of pupils across the year groups considered.

One of the big worries teachers seem to have about the new inspection and more specifically, the deep dives, is that they may be judged on a subject that isn’t where their strengths lie.

However, the onus is not simply on one teacher during the new inspections. Evidence is gathered according to the new ‘Connected Curriculum’ and if an initial judgement cannot be reached, further evidence is sought.

The same goes for if a subject does not represent or reflect findings elsewhere: further evidence will be gathered in order to either substantiate or counteract the findings.

For staff, the inspection will look slightly different to before.

What Does a New Ofsted Inspection Look Like for Staff

1. The “Call”

Inspections will begin with a ‘top level view’: inspectors and leaders will have a phone conversation to begin with, outlining a view of the school’s curriculum.

This will include what is offered, to whom and when. Leaders’ understanding of curriculum intent, sequencing and why these choices have been made will be explored.

2. The “Deep Dive”

The deep dives will then take place during the main visit. This involves gathering evidence on the curriculum intent, implementation and impact over a sample of subjects, topics or aspects.

This is done in collaboration with leaders, teachers and pupils. The intention of the deep dive is to work with all aspects of the pupil’s learning to establish the quality of education.

After conducting the deep dives, inspectors will bring together all of the evidence they have collected.

3. Evidence Collection

If any issues are identified then further evidence will be collected in order to test whether issues are systemic or anomalies.

4. Requests for More Evidence

This will usually lead to school leaders bringing forward further evidence as needed and inspectors gathering additional evidence.

Ofsted’s 4 Areas of Judgement

The following judgements will be made by inspectors, based on all of the evidence collected throughout the visit:

  • Quality of education (Intent, Implementation, Impact)
  • Behavior and Attitudes
  • Personal Development
  • Leadership and Management


All in all, the majority of summaries and reflections gathered on inspections since the new framework does seem to suggest that times are changing for the better.

Inspections can now be tailored to the school, organized with the heads’ and leaders’ input (for example, requesting for all curriculum leaders to hold the discussion with inspectors as a group) and with the emphasis on teaching and learning rather than data.

The hope from Ofsted is that perceptions of them will change and schools will begin to embrace inspections as a way to continue to improve and build on their curriculum, school and overall pupil wellbeing.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new Ofsted inspection framework. Comment below if you’ve been through one of the new inspections, how did it go?

The New Ofsted Inspection Framework FAQ

What Are Ofsted’s 3 I’s?

Intent, Implementation and Impact are the three part of the new “Quality of Education” judgement, which has replaced the “Overall Effectiveness” judgement.

What Are Ofsted’s 4 Areas of Judgement?

Quality of education (Intent, Implementation, Impact)
Behavior and Attitudes
Personal Development
Leadership and Management

What Is the Quality of Education Judgement?

“Quality of Education” has replaced the “Overall Effectiveness” judgement and is designed to give a more holistic view of the school. The aim is move away from data-heavy inspections and through Intent, Implementation and Impact, provide more comprehensive perspective of the teaching in a school.

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