How to prepare for an Ofsted inspection

Preparing for an Ofsted inspection can be challenging, but it's essential when you're working in education. In this blog, Carly Quick-Crockford, one of Juniper's Internal Scrutiny experts, shares her top 10 tips to help schools navigate the process smoothly, from immediate actions to long-term strategies for success.


Preparing for an Ofsted inspection can be overwhelming, but it’s a necessary part of the education sector. By taking the proper steps, it can be a highly rewarding experience. Being prepared is key to handling the process smoothly and effectively, and that’s where Juniper steps in.  

Carly Quick-Crockford, Juniper’s Internal Scrutiny & Consultancy Manager, has provided her top 10 tips for navigating Ofsted inspections successfully. As a team, we’ve been there, done that, and helped hundreds of schools receive Outstanding grades.  

In this blog, Carly covers everything from immediate actions to longer-term strategic plans to ensure you not only meet but exceed expectations. So, if you’re due for an Ofsted inspection or if you’re not, our top tips will help you pass your next Ofsted inspection with flying colours.  

What are Ofsted inspections?  

Ofsted inspections are evaluations carried out by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills in the UK. Their main goal is to assess the quality of education, the learning environment, and the overall effectiveness of schools. During an inspection, Ofsted looks at various aspects such as teaching quality, pupil progress, school leadership, and how well pupils are cared for and kept safe.  

Why are Ofsted inspections important?  

Ofsted inspections are important because they ensure that schools maintain high standards of education and provide safe, supportive environments for pupils. By evaluating teaching quality, student progress, and school management, these inspections help identify strengths and areas for improvement, guiding schools towards better practices. They also offer parents and the wider community a transparent view of a school's performance, creating accountability and trust in the education system. 

Top 10 Tips for Ofsted preparation

1. Maintain accurate records

Ofsted like evidence and organisation, so it’s important that you ensure all records are up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible. This includes: 

  • Pupil performance data 
  • Attendance logs 
  • Staff credentials 
  • Meeting minutes 

To maintain data integrity, you can use digital systems for pupil progress tracking, efficient record-keeping, and regular internal school audits.

2. Create a culture of continuous improvement

Try to build a culture of continuous improvement by regularly evaluating and refining practices. Demonstrate commitment to this strategy through: 

3. Training staff effectively

A great way to prepare for Ofsted inspections is to offer ongoing staff training, covering: 

Schools can also offer periodic refresher courses and workshops to keep everyone informed and prepared.

4. Put strong safeguarding procedures in place 

Schools should prioritise pupil safety with robust procedures and ensure all staff understand and adhere to policies on: 

It’s important to maintain clear communication channels for reporting concerns and ensure all staff understand the processes and procedures that are in place.

5. Focus on pupil outcomes

Ofsted looks at pupil outcomes, so aiming for high academic results while promoting all-round development is important. Schools can enhance pupil outcomes by: 

  • Using differentiated instruction to cater to diverse learning needs 
  • Providing additional support for struggling students 
  • Implementing inclusive education practices that encourage all aspects of growth

6. Engage with parents and the wider community

Schools can strengthen the learning environment by engaging with parents and the wider community. You can do this by utilising your school website, creating engaging digital school newsletters, or using parent engagement apps. Further preparation includes: 

  • Maintaining open, transparent communication with parents by using school communication tools  
  • Encouraging parental involvement in school activities 
  • Partnering with local businesses and organisations to provide additional resources and opportunities 

Schools can also seek external experts to conduct school audits, such as assessing their websites to ensure they meet DfE requirements.

7. Create a safe and welcoming learning environment

It’s important to ensure the school and everyone in it is safe, well, and ready to learn. Schools can promote a positive culture with: 

  • Regular maintenance checks to keep facilities in good condition 
  • Welcoming and inspiring classroom decorations 
  • School-wide programs that promote respect, diversity, and inclusion

8. Prepare for deep dives

Be ready for Ofsted’s in-depth examinations of specific subjects or areas. Prepare by: 

  • Documenting detailed curriculum information 
  • Providing evidence of pupil progress and outcomes 
  • Engaging subject leaders in preparation efforts

9. Demonstrate leadership and management

Schools can show strong leadership and management to satisfy Ofsted through: 

  • A clear and compelling vision for the school 
  • Effective communication strategies with staff and stakeholders 
  • Implementation and tracking of strategic goals and initiatives

10. Be confident and authentic during the inspection

Approach the inspection with confidence and authenticity. Inspectors appreciate honesty and transparency, so: 

  • Engage in genuine discussions about the school’s strengths and areas for improvement 
  • Be open and honest about your operations and practices 
  • Show a cooperative and positive attitude towards the inspection process 


Preparing for an Ofsted inspection doesn't have to be daunting. With these top ten tips and a thorough understanding of what the inspection entails, any school can approach the process with confidence and clarity. Remember, it's not just about ticking boxes; it's a genuine opportunity to improve and showcase the quality of education your school provides. 

Feel confident even when Ofsted isn’t due!   

With many ex-headteachers and teachers on our team, we understand the stress of Ofsted inspections. 

We're here to help you prepare for Ofsted and stay compliant, even between visits. 

From school website audits to banking, procurement, payroll, safeguarding, health and safety, cyber security, curriculum, and more, we are the education service provider that offers less risk and more reward.  

Get in touch with our internal auditing team, who can ensure you’re always ready for Ofsted.