We inspect the quality of education provided by States-maintained schools using a system called Validated School Self-Evaluation or VSSE.
The current arrangements for VSSE require that each school carries out self-evaluation on an annual basis and that each school is subject to external validation and inspection every four years by a team of external, experienced validators/inspectors provided by Tribal Group (Education and Technology Branch). Tribal is the largest provider of services for the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) in the UK and currently works across five continents with a range of education providers.
The number of validators depends on the size of the school and varies between two and eight. Each is an accredited inspector experienced in the appropriate phase of education for the school being inspected.
Each validation takes place over four days.
The starting point of a validation is the external validators' scrutiny of the school's self evaluation documentation or Report on Evaluation and Planning (REP). Validators base their judgments on evidence gathered from a range of areas in addition to the REP such as:
- classroom visits and observations
- discussion with senior managers to agree the interpretation of the performance data
- discussions with groups of learners, usually arranged by key stage, with samples of their work
- discussion with a sample of teachers
- discussion with a sample of middle managers
- questionnaire survey of parents, and a meeting with a sample of them
- scrutiny of relevant documentation, including surveys of stakeholders' views
- discussion with the school's education officer
Schools and validators use the same common evaluation framework across all phases of education including primary, secondary, post 16 and special schools. Three main areas - outcomes for learners, the quality of provision and leadership and management - which have a total of eight sub-criteria, are evaluated and reported on.
The validator's report provides information to the school, parents, learners, the Education Department and other stakeholders on how well the school is performing in different aspects of its work. It also assists the Education Department to know which schools need extra support, and how it might be able to provide it.
Following validation the school integrates the areas designated for improvement into its improvement planning in the REP and this is monitored in follow-up visits by officers from the Department and by a post-validation visit by external validator(s) working in conjunction with Education officers. The Post Validation Review follow up visit by the lead validator takes place between six months and two years after the full validation to ensure that the school is on track and implementing proposals for improvement.
The school provides parents with a summary written report which is also available from the school's website. Copies of the recent summary reports and full reports for those schools who have completed validations under Phase 3 of the programme are also available to download below. Parents may request a hard copy of the full report from the school or Education Department.