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Private school inspections(17 Posts)
We live in an area where the schools aren’t really very good. We may move in the future for when DD starts school or maybe send her private.
My question is- for state schools they get inspected by ofsted and you can read these. Are there inspections and published reports for private schools, with ratings perhaps. My issue is that if we go private I would like her to go to a really good private school as opposed to a mediocre one but pay a premium for the privillege.
There is the independent school inspectorate www.isi.net but their remit is different to ofsted so you won't get the same information. To check financial security you can check on the charity commission accounts if they have charity status.
You can also look up the good school guide but not all schools are in there.
It is best to go and look around the schools to get a good feel of the place and how it might suit your child.
Bear in mind ISI is not impartial. The inspectors come from other independent schools and the data is not always easy to substantiate.
I have worked in state and private schools over the past 20 years. The private school inspections aren't as harsh or critical as OFSTED ones and tend to praise the schools more.
My cousin works as an ISI inspector and is also a head of a private school. Its totally not impartial. There's a lot of who knows who and if a school need to improve something they get told to fix it before the end of the visit.
We argue a lot about what the fucking point of her jolly as an inspector is. Seems to be mostly about getting a cushy slot when she retires.
Most independent schools are inspected by ISI, and the rest by SIS.
Both groups are overseen by OFSTED, and inspect for the same standards.
There isn’t any back scratching in the ISI. Inspectors come from an totally different geography to the schools they are inspecting. They have to declare any conflict of interest.
They have to assess the schools as they see them, so looking at policies and other paperwork to see if the school does what it says on the tin.
They are more pastoral with the schools when they see improvement needs. They are careful with reports, as a poor one reflects badly on the sector. Most prospective parents would not be able to read between the lines on a positive sounding report that is actually not that great.
Thanks everyone- so perhaps these reports aren’t as useful as ofsteds are. I guess I just need to have a look around at each school. Thanks again.
I agree with other posters above, ISI technically is meant to be non-impartial but it really is generally a pat on the back. Even though inspectors come from other areas (and it isn't actually that far from what I've seen) independent schools tend to have national reputations. They dig a little deeper now than they used to but they are generally nothing like Ofsted and are pretty gentle.
I see it that if there is something strongly negative in an ISI report, it means there are real issues at the school as it is so rare to have a negative ISI. Most independent schools' ISI reports just have one or two small targets to work on and are flowing with praise.
I think most private schools opt to be inspected by Ofstead anyway? Ours certainly does.
Um, no. That is madness, and only if you aren’t a member of a professional body, such as ISA, GSA.
Nursery and Reception gets an Ofsted inspection.
I think most private schools opt to be inspected by Ofstead anyway? Ours certainly does
No - most private schools that have been inspected by Ofsted are because of concerns (Ofsted retains the powers to inspect any school in England that it wants). They may inspect bits of a school's provision - such as the nursery - but the report should make it clear what the limits of the inspection are.
The framework for the inspections is the Independent Schools Regulations, which is not that dissimilar to the requirements for non-private schools. The reports can be well written and informative or a bit scarce on detail, but should give you a good starting point for when you go to view a school.
Early Years (nursery and Reception) would be ofsted inspected (to access government free hours funding) as would Boarding but is not a requirement otherwise.
Boarding is no longer inspected by Ofsted; ISI does that now.
If you decide to opt for a private school check on the qualifications of teaching staff. We found out one teacher was not qualified and on investigation they didn’t need to be.
Check the food hygiene rating and ask to see the kitchens too.
Don’t go by the glossy brochure as it’s not always true.
The above may have changed in the last few years so apologies if all teachers now have to be qualified.
All the local prep/private schools in our area have ofstead reports (sw london), all outstanding and have been for years so not an issue of concern. Wonder if it’s because parents expect it?
I work in an independent school in SW London, and inspected by ISI.
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