Ofsted Update

Members should have automatically received this update from Ofsted, which was sent out week commencing 28th June regarding an updated Education and Skills Inspection handbook. Of note is the increased focus on sexual harassment as part of an inspection and extended inspection intervals.

Ofsted has revised its further education and skills inspection handbook with effect from 1 September 2021. You can view this here:


In the meantime, the version of the handbook published on 19 April remains in use until 31 August 2021:


The key changes to come into effect from 1 September 2021 are as follows:

  • Safeguarding and sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse

The safeguarding section (paragraphs 268 to 279) under ‘Leadership and management’ is updated to take into account the findings and recommendations of Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges in the context of further education and skills provision. It is recommended that you read this section. This includes, in particular, a new section entitled: ‘Sexual harassment and violence and online sexual abuse between learners who are children or young people’ added at paragraphs 275 to 279 which applies specifically to colleges (ie GFECs and SFCs). This explains what inspectors will evaluate in the light of the findings and recommendations of the review report. It includes the expectation that we will meet with groups of learners, in particular single-sex groups, as part of the inspection of safeguarding (see paragraph 119) and confirms that we will ask for and look at cases of sexual abuse/ harassment incidents (just as we might for other safeguarding cases, paragraph 132).

  • Transitional arrangements

The transitional arrangements we currently apply to take account of the impact of Covid are extended, with necessary modifications, to cover the transitional recovery period up to March 2022 (see paragraphs 10 to 24). It is recommended that you read this section.

  • Continued return to full inspection activity

Ofsted intends to return to a full programme of inspection activity, including full inspections of all types of provider, from the autumn term 2021, subject to an early review of conditions in September.

  • Extended inspection intervals on account of COVID-19

When Ofsted published the handbook in April 2021, they included extended inspection intervals to make allowance for the impact of COVID-19 and the fact that Ofsted had to suspend inspection activity from March 2020 (and is now making a phased return to full inspection activity). This is a reminder that the extended intervals are expressed in terms of ‘within’ a timescale. That still means Ofsted may inspect at any point ’within’ that timescale. Full details are provided within the further education and skills inspection handbook.

View the main extensions/ changes to timescales (for specific details please refer to the handbook).