Meeting the New Ofsted Criteria for Lesson Observation – For Schools Education Services (2023)

The new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) comes into effect this month. Ofsted have published an explanatory document related specifically to lesson observation and how it will be used in the new inspections – “an important inspection method within an inspector’s toolkit”.

Purpose of Observation and the Observation Model

Ofsted recognise that classrooms are complex environments and to try and capture everything that goes on is neither possible nor desirable. They also know that lesson observation is only one tool among a range of evaluation methods for measuring teacher effectiveness and that evidence should be triangulated to make informed assessments.

The initial methodology developed for inspection observations contained eighteen indicators (the full list is towards the end of this blog), and lesson visits, as Ofsted are now calling them, were planned to last 15 to 30 minutes in length.

The indicators were tested in a range of schools (22) and colleges (15).

What the Trial Found

Validity and Reliability

Evidence suggested that valid assessments were able to be made using the observation model.

Observers were able to judge which indicators proved to be most or least useful. There was some evidence that the range was too large and could cause “observer cognitive overload”. A reduction in the number of indicators may lead to a more consistent approach and therefore a more robust judgement.

(Video) Ofsted school inspections update 2022 - webinar

In judging validity, observers scored behaviour indicators more strongly than those for teaching and the curriculum (which replicates the pattern found in most observation models).

Data suggested that longer observations tended to lead to greater reliability.

Multiple Observers

All the evidence from international studies suggests that multiple (can be two) observers are more effective if the model is aimed at teacher development rather than a judgemental assessment model.

Number of Lessons

Reliability is linked to the number of lessons seen. One-time observations are open to error. A greater number of observations is required when a teacher is receiving developmental feedback rather than being simply “evaluated”.

There was also some evidence that the time of day and even point in the year can influence observer ratings, again making multiple observations beneficial in giving a more comprehensive picture of a teacher’s practice.

This may well have implications during inspection if inspectors are to visit teachers more than once. Certainly, schools should again be taking this into account when developing their own model. It will require that leadership develop a culture of improvement where teachers see the observation process as something which contributes to their entitlement as professional learners rather than something done to them without a developmental purpose.

(Video) Classroom Observation Strategies: Lesson Study

Subject Specific or Generic

There is still some lack of agreement about whether indicators should be generic or subject specific. The Ofsted view is that, for them, subject specific indicators prove too difficult because of the need for an increase in training needs and subject experts.

Even within a generic model Ofsted already recognise the need for high-quality initial training for observers in order to ensure the continued reliability of judgements.

The Most Useful Indicators

Analysis of the trial results showed that there were a reduced number of indicators with a high level of reliability overall. Those with low reliability were mainly because they are aspects of a lesson which are hard to assess with a secure level of consistency. There were some differences between primary and secondary schools and particularly colleges.

Overall, the following eight were those identified as having higher levels of reliability and these will be those prioritised by Ofsted in developing further pilot visits before final agreement and inclusion within the EIF. The reduction would also mitigate against cognitive overload.

The core eight are:

Curriculum Domain

(Video) Revised Ofsted Inspection Framework

  • Teachers use their subject expertise to provide effective learning opportunities.
  • The lesson content is appropriate to the age group and does not lower expectations.
  • There is a logical sequence to the lesson.

Teaching Domain

  • Teachers demonstrate good communication skills.
  • Teachers possess good questioning skills.
  • Teachers give explicit, detailed and constructive feedback in class.

Behaviour Domain

  • Teachers create supportive classrooms focused on learning.
  • Pupils’ behaviour contributes to the focus on learning.

NB There is no weighting given to any element.

Scoring Within the Trial

A five-point scale was used by inspectors in the trial, firstly to avoid reference to current judgements and secondly to increase the variability possibilities in scoring. This again will be a part of the further trialing.

This aspect is embedded in practice (many examples of exceptional teaching)This aspect is embedded with minor points for development (leaders taking action to remedy minor shortfalls)This aspect is sufficient but there are some weaknesses overall in a number of examples (identified by leaders but not yet remedying)Major weaknesses evident (leaders have not identified or started to remedy weaknesses)This aspect is absent in practiceUnable to score this indicator as not observed in the time provided


The model is designed to contribute to school-level evaluation rather than evaluation of a single teacher, and in that way to sit alongside the assessment of the curriculum and impact more effectively on the judgement of the quality of education.

This means that the subject or department (or similar) is the key unit of interest under which lesson visits will be carried out. This is known as the “deep dive”.

(Video) What is the future of lesson observation in our schools? (Part 2)

The aim of the “deep dive” is to allow inspectors to gather evidence to form an accurate evaluation of how education flows from intention to implementation and finally to impact within a school. In primary schools inspectors will always undertake this in reading as well as one or more foundation subjects. This will always include a subject being taught in school at the time inspectors are on-site. Inspectors will also often include mathematics in the “deep dive”. For secondary schools the “deep dive” will typically focus on a sample of between four and six subjects, with the aim of looking at a wide variety of pupils in differing year groups across that sample.

This will place a much closer focus on subject leaders or department heads. They will be key players in any inspection and need to have a very clear idea of the position and direction of travel of their subject, along with the evidence to back up judgements. There are implications for schools being much more focused on the processes and outcomes of self-evaluation and being able to demonstrate the monitoring, evaluation, action, impact cycle being a part of everyday practice.

Our Online Tool for Recording and Analysing Lesson Visits

However you choose to carry out your Lesson Observations or Lesson Visits going forward, our online tool can help you record and analyse them with ease. Forms can be custom built to match your own framework, or you can choose to use our comprehensive framework which incorporates the new Ofsted criteria.

Meeting the New Ofsted Criteria for Lesson Observation – For Schools Education Services (1)

Add comments, select relevant descriptors and assign judgements using customisable forms on Lessons Learned.

To book a free, no-obligations online demo click here.

The Original Indicators


  • Teachers use subject expertise, knowledge and practical skills to provide learning opportunities
  • Teachers ensure there is an equality of opportunity for all learners to access every lesson, as building blocks to the wider curriculum
  • Strategies to support reading/vocabulary understanding/numeracy are in place for pupils who need it/cannot access the curriculum
  • The content of the lesson is suitably demanding
  • The lesson content is appropriate to the age group and does not lower expectations
  • There is a logical sequence to the lesson
  • Teachers provide opportunities to recall and practise previously learned skills and knowledge
  • Assessment provides relevant, clear and helpful information about the current skills and knowledge of learners


  • Teachers demonstrate good communication skills
  • Teachers’ use of presentation allows pupils to build knowledge and make connections
  • Teachers use relevant and appropriate resources during presentation to clarify meaning to pupils
  • Teachers possess good questioning skills
  • Teachers give explicit, detailed and constructive feedback in class
  • Teachers effectively check for understanding


  • Teachers create supportive classrooms focused on learning
  • Teachers create focused classrooms through their high expectations for pupils
  • Teachers communicate clear and consistent expectations which are understood and followed
  • Pupils’ behaviour contributes to the focus on learning

Useful Links

(Video) Ofsted Inspection - Everything You Need to Know


What is the Ofsted criteria for outstanding lesson observations? ›

OFSTED defines an outstanding lesson as one where the students show clear evidence of learning. The lesson should also have no significant areas for improvement and lots of strengths. The inspector will be looking at how the students are responding to the lesson and what they are doing.

What are Ofsted looking for in early years 2022? ›

the practitioner's knowledge of each child. the progress check for any children aged 2. the impact of any early years pupil premium funding on the children's development. the quality of support for any children with SEND (see paragraph 46)

Do Ofsted still observe lessons? ›

Inspectors do not grade individual lessons. Ofsted does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons. ∎ Ofsted does not require schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation.

What are the 4 Ofsted categories? ›

The new Ofsted framework renewed the key judgement categories examined by inspectors during school visits. The four areas that exist now are: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, and leadership and management.

What are the 3 main functions of Ofsted? ›

Our priorities
  • Inspections that raise standards: our inspections help education and social care recover and improve.
  • Right-touch regulation: our regulation advances high-quality care, education and safeguarding for children.
  • Making the most of our insights: we share insights through our research and analysis.

What will Ofsted ask 2022? ›

Progress Questions

Progress has been mentioned a lot during these Ofsted deep dives. Expect lots of questions and discussions and progress in pupils' learning: how teachers know what went before, how they know where they are going, and how they are supporting pupils to get there.

What questions are Ofsted asking? ›

Below is a handy list of 14 questions Ofsted could ask and why:
  • Is safeguarding practice effective in implementation?
  • How often is your school/college's safeguarding policies and related policies reviewed?
  • Are your leaders aware of how to identify and respond to online safety concerns?

What questions do Ofsted ask teachers? ›

Ofsted want to understand the collaborative process, so they may ask:
  • What should we expect to see in a maths lesson today?
  • How does your School Improvement Plan reflect the need for support in this subject?
  • What strengths and weaknesses can you identify in the curriculum you offer?
Mar 12, 2020

How long is Ofsted lesson observation? ›

Conducting observations

There should be a limit of three observations for all purposes. Under no circumstances shall the total time occupied by all observations exceed three hours per year and the focus and timing must be agreed in the teacher's appraisal planning statement.

How does Ofsted work now? ›

Ofsted inspectors will grade schools by making judgements on “overall effectiveness”, alongside thefour key judgement categories: the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management.

What are the weaknesses of Ofsted? ›

Ofsted needs to respond to these interacting disadvantages by making more sweeping changes than it has done so far to the inspection of schools and colleges in our most deprived areas. Overall Ofsted's methods are unreliable, invalid, ineffective and unjust, especially to schools serving the poorest communities.

What are the 5 most important steps in observational learning? ›

– Albert Bandura As the creator of the concept of social learning theory, Bandura proposes five essential steps in order for the learning to take place: observation, attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What are five characteristics of lesson observations? ›

The Elements of Classroom Observation

A specific observational focus. Operational definitions of all the observed behaviors. Training procedures for observers. An observation schedule.

What are the 4 steps of observation? ›

Observational learning is a major component of Bandura's social learning theory. He also emphasized that four conditions were necessary in any form of observing and modeling behavior: attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What are the Ofsted criteria? ›

First, it's important to know that Ofsted inspectors will give grades to schools by making judgements on “overall effectiveness”, besides the four key judgement categories (the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management).

What are Ofsted requirements? ›

Registration requirements

All registered childcare providers must follow any relevant legislation, including laws about health and safety, disability discrimination, food hygiene, fire and planning requirements. Your local authority can provide advice to help you to identify and comply with your legal obligations.

What is the new Ofsted grading? ›

Ofsted gives schools one of four judgements to schools in graded inspections: “outstanding”, “good”, “requires improvement” or “inadequate”.

What makes an effective school Ofsted? ›

An outstanding school shows a consistently high quality of teaching and learning in the great majority of its classrooms. An Ofsted inspection is designed to provide an independent external evaluation of a school's effectiveness, and a diagnosis of what it should do to improve.

What do Ofsted look for in schools? ›

Ofsted will want to look at all available records about your school and the students, including records of accidents, complaints, your safeguarding or health and safety policies, and information about staff qualifications (see our previous section for details).

What is the role of Ofsted in education? ›

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. This UK institution inspects all services that provide education and skills for learners of all ages in England, while also inspecting and regulating those that care for children and young people.

What are good Ofsted activities? ›

Include hand washing (make up a song so children talk about washing the germs away), putting on aprons, discussing types of food and where it comes from, cutting safely, sharing out between plates etc in your day-to-day planning so it is a normal part of daily routine for the children.

What do Ofsted want to hear from parents? ›

Does your child have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND)? (yes or no) … If yes, the survey asks parents how strongly they agree with this statement: 'My child has SEND, and the school gives them the support they need to succeed. ' The school has high expectations for my child.

What do Ofsted say when they call? ›

This is a professional conversation where they will ask for an outline of the school's context, ethos and values among many other areas, having already looked in-depth at your school website. They may have questions following their website check and they will inform you of any statutory information that is missing.

What do you say when Ofsted call? ›

  • Good morning/afternoon, my name is [XXXX] and I work for Ofsted. ...
  • Good morning/afternoon, my name is [XXXX], I am calling today to inform you of. ...
  • The inspection of your school will take place on [INSPECTION -Start Date to. ...
  • The lead inspector will call you today to talk about practical issues and will also have.

What are the 3 indicators of a great teacher? ›

Тhese are the main indicators of the effectiveness of teachers in the educational process:
  • The ability to develop trusting, compassionate relationships with students.
  • Patient, caring, and kind personality.
  • Professionalism.
  • Subject matter knowledge.
  • Knowledge of learners (Katherine McKnight, 2015)
Jun 12, 2020

What are at least 3 things a great teacher must do in order to have excellent classroom management? ›

  • Develop Effective Working Relationships With Your Students. ...
  • Train Your Students on How Learning Takes Place in Your Classroom. ...
  • Protect and Leverage Your Time. ...
  • Anticipate Your Students' Behaviors in Well-Written Lesson Plans. ...
  • Establish Behavioral Standards.
Sep 2, 2016

How many lessons do Ofsted observe? ›

The number of deep dives undertaken during inspection will depend on the size of the school or setting. In the case of secondary schools, inspectors will usually conduct deep dives of four to six subjects.

What are the six models of lesson observation Ofsted? ›

The models are: ∎ Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) ∎ Framework for Teaching (FfT) ∎ International Comparative Analysis of Learning and Teaching (ICALT) ∎ International System for Teacher Observation and Feedback (ISTOF) ∎ Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) ∎ Generic Dimensions of Teacher Quality.

Should lesson observations be graded? ›

The feedback given by the observer is more important than the grade the teacher would have previously been given. By not giving a grade after an observation, a teacher can be encouraged to analyse, critique and reflect on the feedback they have been given and in turn, reflect on their practice.

Is there Ofsted in America? ›

What about inspections in the United States? Our closest analog to Ofsted is the reauthorization process for charter schools in several states. For example, charter schools authorized by New York State's Board of Regents are subject to site visits for reauthorization based on protocols that mirror Ofsted's.

Is Ofsted a legal requirement? ›

Providing childcare without being registered is an offence and could lead to prosecution and sizeable fines. Ofsted regulate for the following reasons: To protect and ensure the welfare of children.

Do Ofsted speak to all teachers? ›

Inspectors may also talk to individual teachers about the lesson they've observed, although individual teachers and lessons are not graded in the new framework.

What makes an outstanding curriculum Ofsted? ›

Your quality of education is 'outstanding' when: Everyone knows your curriculum intent (what you're teaching pupils and why you're teaching them that) and how it's being implemented, including what it means for them. Across all parts of the school, series of lessons contribute well to delivering the curriculum intent.

What is Ofsted outstanding? ›

Ofsted Grade 1: Outstanding

An Outstanding school will receive Grade 1 for most if not all inspection categories, meaning they provide the highest quality education and care for their children. They will also not receive a Grade 3 or Grade 4 in any category.

What principals look for in observations? ›

So what do Principals look for? The simple answer is CLASSROOM CONTROL. That must be in place for learning to occur. There are many other items that are being observed.


1. The New Ofsted Framework 2019 | Satchel
(Team Satchel)
2. How schools are inspected - webinar
3. Andy Griffith - Outstanding Teaching: A toolkit to succeed
(Osiris Educational)
4. Taking Risks with Ofsted
5. Ofsted’s education inspection framework and what it means for childminders
6. Ofsted Outstanding Year 2 Literacy Lesson Observation: Reported Speech
(Video Learning)
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