Ofsted Categories

Ofsted Categories

The new Ofsted framework renewed the key judgement categories examined by inspectors during school visits. The four areas that exist now are: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management. We will look at the most important elements of all areas — for even more detailed descriptions, please refer to Ofsted’s Education inspection framework guidance.

Quality of education

Under the “Quality of education” judgement category, inspectors will look holistically at the 3 I’s of the Ofsted framework:

  1. Intent
  • How educators construct the curriculum and if it’s designed to give all the necessary knowledge and cultural capital needed by all learners, including disadvantaged students, those with special needs, or disabilities and high needs
  • Are learners taught a full range of subjects for as long as possible, “specialising only when necessary”

Ofsted defines cultural capital following the national curriculum:

“It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.”

School inspection handbook, Ofsted

  1. Implementation
  • Do teachers have a good knowledge of the subject they teach? This relies on if they present their subject clearly, if they check learners’ understanding systematically and provide feedback, while responding and adapting their teaching methods
  • Can educators ensure that learners remember their studies in the long term? This relies on the assessments used to help students implement their knowledge continuously
  • Does the learning environment, the resources, and materials created and used by the educators support the planned curriculum in providing learners’ needed knowledge and skills
  • Is there special importance placed on reading that should be perceived as an activity that can develop learners’ confidence and their enjoyment of reading
  1. Impact
  • As a result of knowledge and skills acquired through the implemented curriculum, do learners achieve well? This is mostly reflected in the results of national tests and examinations 
  • Do learners read “widely and often, with fluency and comprehension”
  • Do learners gain qualifications that let them continue their course of study and enable them to move on to further education, employment or training


Ofsted apprenticeship requirements

From 1 April 2021, Ofsted is responsible for inspecting apprenticeship provision at levels 2 to 5. Here’s what inspectors will look at:

  • How well school leaders and managers ensure that the apprenticeship curriculum meets the principles and requirements of an apprenticeship
  • How the staff engages with employers to complete the apprenticeship commitment statement, to plan the training and assessments, to agree on qualifications, to monitor and support apprentices
  • How well trainers, assessors, coaches and mentors communicate subject knowledge reflecting industry practice and meeting employers’ needs
  • If apprentices will gain the required knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable them to complete apprenticeships, contribute to their workplace and fulfil their career

Further education and skills handbook, Ofsted

Essentially, the three I’s of the Ofsted framework focus on how educators teach, what they teach and why (intent), how they implement these plans for learners in practice (implementation) and what they can achieve with that (impact).

For educators and careers leaders, an easy-to-use online program like Xello can be an effective help with supporting career planning for students, and in engaging and monitoring their progress as they explore apprenticeship options and set goals and plans to help them fulfil their career aims. Xello has a database of over 20,000 courses and apprenticeships that provides unbiased, up-to-date information for students about their opportunities as potential apprentices and an employed workforce in the labour market.

Behaviour and attitudes

To evaluate and judge behaviour and attitudes, inspectors will look for evidence that:

  • There are high expectations in place regarding learners’ behaviour, which are applied in a consistent and fair manner. This is also reflected in learners’ behaviour
  • Learners have a positive attitude towards their education and are committed to learning, know how to study and take on challenges effectively, and are able to be proud of their achievements
  • The attendance of learners is high and they are also punctual
  • The relationship between staff and learners is positive and respectful
  • In the environment, created by (school) leaders, teachers and learners, “bullying, peer-on-peer abuse or discriminated are not tolerated” and in case of any related situations, the staff handles them quickly and effectively

In order to determine behaviour and attitudes, inspectors also have discussions with pupils from different backgrounds and staff to collect information and evidence about the school culture and practice related to the field.

Personal development

When looking at personal development, Ofsted inspectors will evaluate that:

  • The curriculum, beyond serving purely academic goals, supports the broader development of learners, helping them find their interests and talents, and develop those interests and talents
  • The curriculum provides what is needed for learners to develop their character, and to stay physically and mentally healthy
  • The provider and educator prepare learners for future success and “life in modern Britain”:

“The provider prepares learners for life in modern Britain by: equipping them to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society; developing their understanding of fundamental British values; developing their understanding and appreciation of diversity; celebrating what we have in common and promoting respect for the different protected characteristics as defined in law”

Education inspection framework, Ofsted

The judgement about personal development also focuses on providing an effective careers programme in the school, with guidance on careers advice offering students:

  • Unbiased careers advice
  • Experience of work
  • Contact with employers “to encourage pupils to aspire, make good choices and understand what they need to do to reach and succeed” in their chosen career
  • Support for the next phase of their education, training or employment, so that students are equipped with everything they need to make the transition successfully

 In Xello, students can take a simple but data-driven “Matchmaker” assessment to determine their career matches, and a range of other user-friendly quizzes so they can find career options that suit them the best, based on their interests and skills. Xello helps them create and follow a career plan with additional assessments, such as the Skills Lab, and features like the “Experiences” timeline, CV Builder and a selection of interactive lessons to help them remain engaged in their careers education.

Leadership and management 

Ofsted inspectors will judge the effectiveness of leadership and management by examining that:

  • Leaders and educators have strong, shared values, policies and practices in place, supporting a clear vision of how they plan to provide high-quality, inclusive education to all
  • Leaders and educators concentrate on the long-term development of staff, their subject and pedagogical knowledge, and appropriate use of assessment
  • Leaders and educators make sure that all learners complete their studies
  • Leaders can successfully engage with learners, staff, parents, carers, employers, local services; and they are constructive and helpful in a realistic manner when managing staff
  • Leaders protect their staff from bullying and harassment
  • “Those responsible for governance” ensure that the provider has a clear strategy with well-managed resources, and hold them accountable for fulfilling their duties, for example with regards to safeguarding

 “The provider has a culture of safeguarding that supports effective arrangements to: identify learners who may need early help or who are at risk of neglect, abuse, grooming or exploitation; help learners reduce their risk of harm by securing the support they need, or referring in a timely way to those who have the expertise to help; manage safe recruitment and allegations about adults who may be a risk to learners and vulnerable adults”

Education inspection framework, Ofsted