Ofsted – Inspections Reform, Focus on Safeguarding

The pressure for schools to achieve an “Outstanding” evaluation from Ofsted has become so great that it has led to severely adverse outcomes for headteachers and other school leaders’ mental wellbeing.

This summer Ofsted introduced a number of new protocols aimed at embracing concerns raised by teachers, unions and parents, while remaining committed to the integrity of the inspection process and the goal to be “the clearest way to give parents confidence in choosing the right school for their child.”


Much needed.

More needed.

Two sentences to sum up both the gratitude and the frustration expressed by teachers, parents and governors in light of recently announced Ofsted inspection changes.


Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector said: “Since the sad death of Ruth Perry, there has been considerable debate around Ofsted’s work and I want to reassure people that we are listening to their concerns, and thinking carefully about how we can revise aspects of our work without losing our clear focus on the needs of children and their parents.”

“The reforms announced by…Spielman…are intended to ease the burden felt by school leaders such as…Perry.” GUA

In light of that burden, the changes are meant to in part de-personalise the process – altering the focus on senior staff and instead citing the school when evidencing programme weaknesses. Also, the new measures will permit headteachers to discuss draft reports with peers and faculty prior to formal publication in a bid to relieve what many staff have said amounts to a “burden of secrecy.” 

Ofsted also have committed to shortening the re-inspection period for schools found to have safeguarding concerns and to lead a consultation on the current complaints and grievances procedure. 

Lastly, Government are increasing the resources provided to schools as part of the inspection process – such as enhanced explanations of safeguarding standards and more funding for the DfE’s mental wellness service.

However, critics contend “changes by Ofsted to the way it inspects schools have been criticised as ‘nowhere near enough’ to reduce the resulting high levels of stress involved, which were linked to the recent death of a popular headteacher.”  GUA 

The Current Inspection Methodology

Schools are generally evaluated on a rolling basis every 2-4 years, depending on prior inspection results. The evaluation takes place over a 1-2 day period, usually on 24-hours’ notice of the specific appointment date. 

“Inspectors make graded judgements on overall effectiveness and four key areas:

  • the quality of education
  • behaviour and attitudes
  • personal development
  • leadership and management.” SGU

“In each area, schools are graded as:

  • Grade 1 – Outstanding
  • Grade 2 – Good 
  • Grade 3 – Requires Improvement
  • Grade 4 – Inadequate.” SGU

In the current schema, safeguarding concerns are deemed paramount and as a result, “schools…[are] automatically graded as inadequate if inspectors raise concerns about how children are kept safe.” BBC

The result? Schools judged inadequate for safeguarding reasons are issued a “directive academy order (DAO). [It] is a legal instruction which will ultimately lead to a maintained school academising and joining a multi academy trust (MAT). In most cases, a DAO is triggered by an inadequate Ofsted judgement or being judged less than good twice.” NGA

The difficulty? Schools can be left largely in the dark about how these safeguarding determinations have been reached and how they should be ameliorated for the betterment of pupils.

Educators, parents and teachers’ unions have long raised concerns that there is a lack of differentiation between what constitutes a major/minor safeguarding concern, as well as lack of clarity from Ofsted around “what exactly is expected in measures to keep children safe – such as good records and staff training” BBC 

Upcoming Ofsted Inspection Changes

“Ofsted has announced a number of changes to its inspection processes, including a revised complaints procedure, schools being re-inspected more quickly after safeguarding failures, and new wellbeing investment. 

The announced changes also aim to provide opportunities for school leaders to enhance safeguarding measures and express concerns before the publication of reports.”  NGA

What to expect in the coming months?

  1. Faster re-inspections for safeguarding failures…
  2. … and academy orders can be revoked
  3. ‘Greater clarity’ on effective safeguarding
  4. Consultation to overhaul complaints process
  5. Schools told which year they’ll be inspected
  6. Heads told they can share draft report findings
  7. Critical reports will be ‘de-personalised’
  8. DfE expands heads’ wellbeing service SW
Female teacher taking an online class on her laptop. She is wearing a black floral shirt

Sing Education - Your Safeguarding Partner

At Sing Education, safeguarding is a top priority. 

We are proactive.

All teachers undergo training to ensure the safety and well-being of children. This involves maintaining appropriate conduct and interactions with children to make them feel secure at all times, not just when a safeguarding matter occurs.

Sing Education collaborates with schools to ensure suitable and safe teaching environments, whether in regular classes, one-on-one sessions, or small groups. For instance, one-on-one lessons are held in rooms with windows or open doors as per safeguarding guidelines. 

We are a safe employer.

All staff receive accredited safeguarding training on a regular basis, with a designated safeguarding lead and induction into placement school policies to ensure pupil safety.

To learn more about Sing Education, including how our music provision, online instrumental lessons and at home learning resources contribute to a well-rounded music curriculum, please visit www.singeducation.co.uk/schools

About Us

Founded in 2014 and serving more than 16,000 children each week, Sing Education is a first class provider of primary school music education. Focusing on high-quality, singing-led tuition, we deliver a complete solution for schools which includes teacher recruitment, training and management, bespoke curricular resources and educational consultancy services. 

Through music lessons, singing assemblies, choirs, after school clubs and instrumental tuition, Sing Education works with students from Nursery right through to Year 6. Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know firsthand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education. 

Sing Education currently partners with schools throughout Greater London and Kent, as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Not yet on the list? Please enquire about our expansion plans for additional areas we will serve during the 2023-24 academic year.


#SingEducation #HubsAndSpokes #InsideMusicEd



  1. Ofsted school inspection reforms ‘nowhere near enough’ Guardian GUA
  2. The 8 Ofsted inspection changes following Ruth Perry’s death SchoolsWeek SW
  3. What changes have Ofsted made to inspections? SchoolGuide SGU
  4. Ofsted changes after Ruth Perry’s family campaign ‘nowhere near’ enough BBC BBC

NGA responds to Ofsted changes to school inspections NGA NGA

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Sing Education works with headteachers to provide tailored PPA cover by helping schools to timetable this and plan how curricular music can support PPA cover.
We offer constant support for schools through our consultancy services on issues such as timetabling, pupil safeguarding, equipment supply and onboarding.
We source our music teachers from leading conservatoires and universities, we provide ongoing training and are proud of our well-established teaching resources.

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