Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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No-notice inspections for welfare provision at boarding and residential special schools as Ofsted introduces a new inspection model

Boarding and residential special schools are to have unannounced, no-notice inspections when welfare is to be inspected separately from education, Ofsted announces today as it introduces a new comprehensive framework for the sector. Previously, these schools were given five days’ notice when boarders’ welfare alone was inspected.

The introduction of no-notice inspections reflects the Munro review of child protection, which recommends that unannounced inspections should apply to the broader remit across all children’s services.

The new inspection model incorporates the revised national minimum standards for boarding provision, introduced by the government this September. The new inspection process is designed to capture as accurate a picture as possible of the care and education a school provides. The ultimate aim is to improve the residential experience for children.

To improve efficiency, wherever possible, education and welfare will be inspected jointly in one integrated inspection. For this type of inspection, Ofsted will give schools two days’ notice. However, when inspecting education and welfare arrangements jointly is not practical, welfare inspections will be carried out separately with no notice.

To ensure the inspection process is consistent, boarding and residential provision in schools will be assessed under a single new framework. And for the first time for these schools, Ofsted will publish the detailed criteria inspectors use to make their judgements, providing greater transparency for schools and parents.  A new judgement on the overall effectiveness of providers will enable pupils, parents and carers, and placing authorities to compare schools.

Ofsted will be collecting up-to-date information about views of schools by conducting an annual survey of the views of pupils, parents and carers, staff, and the authorities who place children in residential special schools. An anonymised analysis of the survey will be shared with the school. If the survey indicates cause for concern, an inspection may be triggered.

To engage and inform pupils further, inspectors will write to boarders summarising the inspection findings.

Welcoming the new framework, Miriam Rosen, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

“The new framework for boarding and residential provision in schools will improve inspection and is designed to help improve the education and living experience of children residing in these schools.

“The introduction of annual surveys, letters to pupils and the publication of monitoring reports will better inform and involve pupils, parents and carers and placing authorities about the welfare and education provided by the school. These changes will enable those who use the service to contribute towards the inspection of their school.”

For both boarding arrangements and education provision, self-evaluation remains an important tool for improvement for school managers. Inspectors will continue to draw on any self-evaluation the school has made of its boarding provision.

Monitoring inspections are carried out in schools that are found to have serious weaknesses and fail to comply with the national minimum standards. Under the new system, all monitoring inspection reports will be published. Previously, only monitoring reports for inspections of education were published.

Notes to Editors

1. The framework for inspecting boarding and residential provision in schools can be found on the Ofsted website.

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the boarding/welfare and education of all maintained boarding school, independent residential special schools and maintained and non-maintained residential special schools. At the request of the Department for Education, Ofsted also inspects boarding and education in independent boarding schools which are not inspected by the Independent School Inspectorate, the Bridge School Inspectorate and the Independent School Council. 

No-notice inspection is carried out when welfare is inspected alone. However, to ensure residential schools are not at a disadvantage compared to non-residential schools; when education is inspected, residential schools will be given two days’ notice similar to maintained school inspections.

When schools receive an integrated inspection, where the boarding / welfare and education are inspected at the same time, or when education is inspected alone, the schools will continue to receive two days’ notice. However, where welfare is inspected alone, schools will receive no-notice inspections.

The new national minimum standards for boarding schools and for residential schools:

2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6574 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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