The quote above is one of the key Ofsted updates in relation to safeguarding. We will be updating this setion over time to give a more comprehensive overview of safeguarding and the Ofsted Handbooks and Education Inspection Framework. But for now, here is a summary of the latest changes (NB - it is important to read the documents in their entirety / we are only commenting on safeguarding-related changes).

Are they coming?

Whilst most inspections before the summer holidays will be short inspections for those previously graded ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’, Ofsted may now also visit any ‘good’ school outside the 5-year window or indeed any school where safeguarding concerns have been flagged or noticed. Ofsted also reserves the right to convert short (S5) inspections to full (S8) ones.

So what are the updates?

There is a new section on returning to inspections post-Covid, which includes examination of the school’s approach to remote education. Whilst curriculum is of course key, are you ready to talk about how you kept everyone safe with policy and in practice (check out for our top tips in this area). Special mention is made of how those with SEND were kept safe during Covid and remote learning, given their needs and increased vulnerability to risk.

Further examination of the Covid period will include how schools continued to provide for vulnerable students and how safeguarding procedures were maintained and evolved to remain effective – how did you ensure reporting and disclosure mechanisms were maintained and nothing could fall through the gaps, both for those at home and in school?

A new paragraph was also added that highlights the importance of pupils and students understanding safeguarding and reporting procedures and feeling safe, not to mention policy being translated into practice. “If inspectors cannot corroborate the evidence that they gather about the effectiveness of the school’s arrangements to safeguard pupils, by talking to pupils on inspection, then safeguarding will likely be judged ineffective.”

The quote above is self-explanatory but it is explained in full in a new document Inspectors talking to pupils on inspection, which highlights the importance of schools not blocking inspectors or young people from speaking to each other.

The handbook updates also include mention of how safeguarding is approached within the curriculum via RSHE (Relationships, Sex & Health Education). Whilst schools were given some flexibility, Ofsted will expect to see evidence of RSHE being taught this year and a rationale for any given approach, plus gaps identified, parents consulted and a policy published.

What about the S8 Handbook and EIF?

The changes above are from the main (Section 5) Handbook. The Section 8 Handbook has not seen significant changes regarding safeguarding but refers to the new Section 5 handbook changes, hence these remain key for any kind of inspection. The EIF (Education Inspection Framework) has only been changed to refer to handbook changes and to explain covid-secure inspections.

Further reading

What Next?

Once you have read these updates, why not check out our Ofsted visit videos to find out what it's like talking to inspectors about safeguarding when they visit (and share your experiences too). Soon we will update this section to give more support with Ofsted and safeguarding.