Ofsted Framework 2021: What It Means For Schools and How to Prepare

In September 2021, Ofsted returned to a full programme of school inspections. Since then, changes have been made to their framework and how they run inspections on individual schools.

Ofsted plans to inspect every school in England by the end of 2025. So what do you need to know about the Ofsted framework 2021 to ensure you’re prepared for the visit?

This article runs through some key changes highlighted in Ofsted’s latest framework with actionable recommendations along the way. These areas of change include:

Preparing For the Visit

Once your school has been selected to be visited by Oftsed, a preparation phone call will be arranged. Here, the lead inspector will learn more about the impact of COVID-19 and how your school managed during this challenging period.

The lead inspector will also explore how your school implemented the curriculum and whether any elements of remote education are still in place at the time of inspection.

Finally, the lead inspector will look to agree on safety protocols that the inspection team will follow. This is so the inspection is completed in a COVD-19 secure way.


Most schools in England faced some big challenges regarding delivering the curriculum properly during the pandemic. For inspectors, they’ll be interested to know about how your school adapted to keep the curriculum a priority from September 2020.

The school curriculum is at the heart of Ofsted’s 2021 framework. To be judged as “good” on curriculum intent, leaders must prove they’ve adopted and constructed an ambitious curriculum.

The curriculum should be designed to give all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

With this in mind, your school should begin listing all of the key changes you made at the height of the pandemic to ensure your pupils continued to receive an education that was in line with the objectives set out in the curriculum.

Remote Education

Ofsted recognises there may still be some circumstances where pupils need to learn remotely. Within their framework, they’re interested to know more about the decisions leaders of your school have made and implemented regarding remote education. 

Inspectors may observe remote teaching and review materials where remote education remains in place. However, it’s important to note that the quality of remote education from March to August 2020 won’t impact their judgement or how they perceive the quality of your school’s education. 

To prepare for this, ask yourself what you did effectively to help all pupils from the classroom adapt to remote education and what best practices you have kept in place to ensure outcome success?

Are there any particular remote learning solutions that have helped along the way? Or have teachers inherited certain learning styles to keep pupils engaged when they aren’t in the physical classroom?

Safeguarding and Attendance

The pandemic increased safeguarding risks. Inspectors will want to spend some time finding out how your school adapted approaches to safeguarding to make sure that:

  • Vulnerable pupils, including those with SEND, were prioritised for face-to-face education in school
  • Safeguarding procedures remained effective for those receiving remote education and those who continued to attend the physical classroom during the pandemic 

For most schools, safeguarding measures won’t have remained the same. Rules changed and so did risks. Inspectors will be interested to know safeguarding arrangements were regularly updated to remain effective. 

Although Ofsted will want to know how your school managed safeguarding during critical moments in the pandemic, they’ll also want to know more about your current situation and plans for the future. 

Were there particular measures that were more impactful than others? And if so, how have you integrated those measures into your safeguarding plans for future safety?

Inspectors will want to discuss inspection patterns and understand how the pandemic specifically affected your school. However, as part of the framework, attendance between March 2020 and March 2021 won’t affect Ofsted’s judgement of your school.

Your Ofsted Visit Could Be Around the Corner. Are You Prepared?

A visit from Ofsted is a big deal for every school. There’s a lot to prepare and it can be overwhelming for some. With changes to the framework now in place, headteachers and other members of leadership teams must have a clear picture of how your school will be inspected.

To find out more about the latest Ofsted frameworks, keep updated by following our blog, where we post regular updates regarding any changes to education, schools and the curriculum. 

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