The Guide to Ofsted Terminology

Author: Ben Greenwood

Posted: 08 Nov 2019

Estimated time to read: 3 mins

Are you treading water with deep dives? Do you know your SIP from your SEF? This September’s changes have brought with them brand new judgement criteria and yet more terminology to learn. Staying on top of this terminology can help to ready your school for inspection and ensure that you aren’t caught out. 

The Ofsted terms you need to know

Deep Dive

The term deep dive isn’t one that is unique to Ofsted, but it is used regularly in the new framework when discussing the inspection process. It involves the evidence on the curriculum intent, implementation and impact over a sample of subjects, topics or aspects. 


A Self Evaluation Form (SEF) is used to assess the school’s performance against key Ofsted criteria. The plan details a summary of each criteria, as well as sections detailing proposed changes and the impact of previous changes.


After creating a SEF, you should be fully equipped with the information you need to write up your School Improvement Plan (SIP). Using the improvement areas from the SEF it is easier to piece together the next steps for your school, based on the areas for improvement highlighted in the self evaluation process.  

ofsted terminology


Inspectors use Inspection Data Summary Reports to prepare for a school inspection. They’re designed to align the inspectors with the Ofsted handbook and keep inspections on track. No members of the school team will see the ISDR, it is for the use of inspectors only.  

Quality of education

Quality of education is the new Ofsted judgement criteria that replaces ‘teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘outcomes’. It will be judged by assessing three key areas. Intent, implementation and impact. These areas aim to better evaluate the quality of the curriculum, teaching and student progress. 


Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural Development falls under the behaviour and attitudes section of the Ofsted framework. It is the development  of students’ moral judgements, spiritual awareness, social skills and cultural understanding alongside their academic progression. 


PEX is the permanent exclusion of students from school and will be assessed under the ‘behaviour and attitudes’ criteria. It will determine whether exclusion is being used correctly and what effects it is having on students’ attainment and progress. 


Ofsted use a process they call triangulation, in order to corroborate evidence and validate their findings. This works by using very different indicators of a school’s success. Such as combining student happiness feedback with test results and lesson visit findings.

Cultural Capital

When referring to Cultural Capital, Ofsted is looking at the extent to which schools can equip students with cultural knowledge needed to live a fulfilling life. Ofsted say that this is “essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens”.

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