OFSTED Ratings Guide (Updated 2024)

Everything you need to know about OFSTED
What are OFSTED Ratings

What is OFSTED?

OFSTED is an independent party that inspects UK education services. OFSTED stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. OFSTED is an independent, non-ministerial party that conducts inspections on schools and it reports directly to the Parliament. OFSTED conducts regular inspections on over 20,000 educational, training, or social care services provided to children in the UK.

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OFSTED League Table

Were you wondering which school is the best? We’ve put together the league table below which compares the performance of independent schools that have been inspected by OFSTED. OFSTED gives schools ratings that range from Outstanding to Inadequate – we explain these ratings in detail below. Our league table uses data that has been made publicly available by the UK government.


If you have heard of OFSTED, then you might have also heard of ISI, the Independent Schools Inspectorate. ISI is a government-approved inspectorate that conducts inspections on all independent schools. Meanwhile, OFSTED inspects non-associated independent schools and other education services for children and it monitors ISI’s services. Both OFSTED and ISI create reports on the schools’ compliance with the Department for Education’s standards.

OFSTED Inspection Checklist

OFSTED inspections are thorough as it encompasses every aspect of a school. There are four general areas that are assessed in OFSTED inspections. Inspectors will evaluate the school’s performance in these four general areas based on the following criteria:

Quality of education

  • Intent – ambitious and well-planned curriculum, inclusive of those with special education needs, meets student’s needs  
  • Implementation – teachers have good knowledge of subjects, teaching methods are clear, teachers check students’ understanding and adapt, conducive learning environment, develops students’ reading
  • Impact – students retain knowledge and skills, students are well-prepared for the next stage of education

Behaviour and attitudes

  • Students’ behaviour and conduct towards learning and education, high attendance rates, positive and respectful culture, non-tolerance of bullying or discrimination

Personal development

  • Curriculum extends beyond academic, technical, or vocational knowledge, supports students in the development of their character, teaches civic values, prepares students for their future

Leadership and management

  • Leaders possess a clear and ambitious vision for providing education for all, invest in developing staff’s subject and pedagogical skills to enhance teaching, protect staff from bullying or harassment, engage effectively with students and staff, and ensure that the school fulfils statutory (legal) duties
  • The school has cultivated a culture of safeguarding by identifying students who may be vulnerable to abuse, help students find support, practices safer recruitment

As you may have noticed, many of these criteria are subjective so these ratings will be based on the inspector’s judgement, guided by the principles outlined in OFSTED’s framework for inspections.

OFSTED Rating Scale

How do the OFSTED ratings work? What do these ratings mean? OFSTED uses a four-point system for their ratings which indicate the school’s performance.

Grade 1 - Outstanding

The school has provided for students exceptionally well and students are prepared to the highest attainable level for their next stage of education or work. Some educational institutions that are awarded this rating are exempt from routine inspection.

Grade 2 - Good

The school has provided well for its students. Students are well-prepared for their next stage of education or work. Depending on the school’s performance, schools given this rating will receive a short inspection every three years.

Grade 3 - Requires improvement

The school has a lot of work to do in improving the quality of education it provides. Schools with this rating are given a full inspection every two years.

Grade 4 - Inadequate

The school has significant weaknesses and has failed to prepare students for the next stage of education or work. However, the school’s management and leadership have been rated at a minimum of Grade 3 (Requires improvement) or higher.

Special Measures

If a school’s management has been rated at Grade 4, it will be ranked as a Special Measures school.

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