If your child is going to be attending a faith school, it is understandable that you want to ensure the quality of the school is as high as possible. Inspections allow your child’s school to identify any improvements that might be needed to be pointed out, enabling the school to better itself. Faith schools run differently to other schools, so it makes sense that you might be concerned that they are not inspected in the same way.
Like all schools, the government requires faith schools to be inspected to assess their competency and to find any areas which the schools can improve on. Faith schools fall under the category of independent schools. Ofsted will inspect non-association independent schools, including faith schools within this category. All other faith schools will be inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) instead. They are both government run organisations.
Although the answer has been summarised, continue reading to find out more.
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Are faith schools inspected by Ofsted?
It depends on whether or not the faith school is an independent school or a state school. Even then, there are two types of independent schools: non-association and those which belong to independent school associations.
Ofsted inspects all of the non-association schools, which will include any faith schools under this category. The Ofsted inspection reports can be found here on Ofsted.gov.uk.
The rest of the independent state schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), which has been approved by the Department for Education (DfE). The ISI will ensure schools have a scheduled inspection every three years or so. You can find their inspection reports on this page on ISI.net.
Most faith schools will also be inspected by a religious body.
All independent schools in England must meet the Independent Schools Standards. You can find more information about the criteria here on the ISI’s website.
Why does Ofsted carry out standard inspections?
All independent schools must be registered by the government. If an independent school does not meet the Department for Education’s requirements, then they will be unregistered, making it an offence for the school to continue operating.
Ofsted inspects schools at the DfE’s request. This is so that information can be provided both to the schools and the parents of children attending those schools. This way schools will be encouraged to improve. Ensuring that schools meet a good standard of education is the main reason why schools are inspected.
Other reasons why a school requires inspections
In order for a school to be registered, it must meet certain standards before it can open. An inspection allows the Department for Education to determine whether or not they will register the school.
If a school wished to change the material they teach, the DfE may commission Ofsted to check that the school would still meet the independent school standards if the material change occurs.
If there are any concerns about a school, the DfE can arrange for an emergency inspection to be carried out. Another reason for a school inspection, is if it did not meet the standards that it did in its previous inspection. A progress monitoring inspection will consist of checking the school’s progress in comparison to its action plan and to ensure it meets the otherwise unmet standards.
How often are schools inspected by Ofsted?
As of September 2018, Ofsted will carry out a standard inspection once every three or four years. However, if a school is found to either require improvement or is inadequate, Ofsted will usually conduct their next inspection within two years.
Standard inspections normally last two days but can extend to three days. If a school is small, then it may only take one day.
What is an Ofsted inspection?
All Ofsted inspections will follow the information given by the Education Inspection Framework (EIF), which you can find on this government page. This framework will be used to judge the extent that the schools meet the independent school standards.
Ofsted inspectors will talk with the headteacher, the school’s governors, staff, pupils and will even consider parents’ views. Most of the inspection will consist of lesson observations to see the quality of education and the curriculum’s impact. They will also pay attention to pupils’ development, behaviour and welfare, in addition to how the school is led.
The information they gather allows them to grade the school from 1 to 4. The grades are as follows:
- Grade 1: outstanding
- Grade 2: good
- Grade 3: requires improvement
- Grade 4: inadequate
What is Ofsted?
Ofsted is “the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills”, according to this government page. They inspect and regulate places of education and children’s care services within England, and they report their findings directly to Parliament. Ofsted is both an independent and an impartial organisation.
Despite the fact that they are not technically a government body, they are strongly connected to government authorities and funding. They are not, however, controlled by the central government of the United Kingdom.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own organisations.
Ofsted reviews all work done by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). Therefore, if your child’s school is not inspected by Ofsted there is no need for concern. Either way, you can trust that the ISI will do a thorough job.
All the school inspectors are directly employed by Ofsted and are known as Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI).
What is a faith school?
Faith schools are schools which teach the national curriculum with links to a particular faith or religious organisation.
If the faith school is an independent school, then they have more control over things like when terms begin and end, and what religions are taught in Religious Education. If you are wondering if they have to follow the national curriculum, check out this Think Student article.
For GCSE and A-Level Religious Education, faith schools must follow the specification–for GCSE this means learning about Christianity and one other religion. Independent faith schools are generally not funded by the government, so will often be funded by a religious group which they associate with.
Faith schools which are state-funded (also known as maintained faith schools) are usually also partially funded by a religious organisation which might own the land and even the buildings. You can find some data on how many maintained faith schools there are on this government document. It suggests that around 34% of all state-funded schools were faith schools in January 2019 in England. The majority of these were primary schools.
Faith schools may also have their own admissions criteria and may show a preference to children who are of the same faith that the school is designed for. This does not mean that they will not also admit children from other religious backgrounds.
Faith academies, on the other hand, do not have to teach the national curriculum and will have their own admissions processes.
You can find a more detailed answer about what faith schools are on Think Student. Click here to find your answers!