Ofsted inspection of boarding schools


by Dale Wilkins, Director of Safeguarding, Standards and Training, Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA)

Much of the material in the previous article Inspections of accredited independent boarding schools is relevant to Ofsted’s inspection of boarding schools and I would recommend reading this article as well. The material has not been repeated here as it is available on the previous pages.


In England, Ofsted inspects all state boarding schools and also those independent schools not accredited by one of the five independent school associations (GSA, HMC, IAPS, ISA, Society of Heads). Unless a school requires improvement or there are immediate concerns, Ofsted inspects boarding once in a three-year cycle under the Social Care Common Inspection Framework (SCCIF): boarding schools and residential special schools. This is a new framework which came into use on 1 April 2017, with minor updates in April 2018 and 2019. If the scheduled boarding and education inspections of a school fall within the same year, Ofsted will try to ensure the two inspections are aligned. More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/social-care-common-inspection-framework-sccif-boarding-schools

The evaluation criteria for Ofsted boarding inspections are used to make a judgement of the overall experiences and progress of children taking into account: 

Details can be found in the framework document above. 

Reports do not comment in any detail on the Boarding Schools: National Minimum Standards (NMS) but will state clearly any which are deemed not to have been met. Schools, and indeed Ofsted, consider the NMS to be a minimum requirement which schools should aim to exceed considerably.

The Ofsted report grades boarding in four categories: 

Prospective parents and boarders who are considering a state boarding school or an independent school inspected by Ofsted should read the school’s most recent Ofsted boarding report, available at


Education and boarding reports are normally listed under separate registration numbers. To focus on the boarding element, click on ‘Children’s Social Care’ and then check the box ‘Residential and boarding’.

For Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education there are two government documents: 

Keeping children safe in education (2018) (KCSIE)  


Working together to safeguard children (2018) (WTTSC) 


Subscribe / latest articles and news from our schools