School inspections parent poll — July 2023

In the first independent poll of its kind since the unfortunate passing of Headteacher Ruth Perry, we have endeavoured to understand how parents feel about the role of Ofsted and the performance of school inspections in England.

Key findings 

The results 

General views on inspections and assessment

  • 86% of parents agree, and 56% strongly agree that it’s important for parents to be informed about school inspections and have the opportunity to give their views. When asked about Ofsted reports themselves, 24% of parents agree that they take into account parents views (51% disagree).
  • 84% of parents agree, and 50% strongly agree, that schools receiving low Ofsted ratings should be given the opportunity to be reassessed more quickly to be able to demonstrate that they have resolved issues from the previous inspection.
  • 85% of parents agree Ofsted reports should include feedback about how well a school communicates and engages with parents.
  • 62% of parents value having an independent body assessing how well their child’s school is performing (26% disagree)
  • 17% of parents agree that schools with the highest Ofsted rating don’t need to be inspected as frequently (71% disagree, 51% strongly disagree)

The most important factors for parents when considering a school for their child

  1. School offers a broad and balanced curriculum (60%)
  2. Reputation of the school (43%)
  3. Ease of travel to school (39%)
  4. Views of parents with a child at the school (35%)
  5. Latest Ofsted inspection report (8%)

When choosing a school for their child, 38% of parents read the school’s most recent Ofsted report in full, 17% looked at the overall grade only and 39% did not look at Ofsted reports at all.

Ofsted reports

  • 40% of parents agree reports are easy to understand (36% disagree)
  • 24% of parents agree reports are useful to them as a parent (59% disagree)
  • 25% of parents agree reports help parents to understand a school’s strengths and weaknesses (61% disagree) and 23% of parents agree reports help a school to make improvements to quality of education (60% disagree)
  • 17% of parents agree reports tell parents the most important things they need to know about a school’s performance (71% disagree, 44% strongly disagree)
  • 13% of parents agree reports provide an accurate assessment of a school’s performance (76% disagree, 48% strongly disagree)


  • 78% of parents agree (53% strongly agree) with the suggestion that safeguarding should be inspected separately by Ofsted and not form part of a school’s overall Ofsted rating, with schools failing on safeguarding required to resolve issues within a fixed time period. (14% disagree)
  • 71% of parents would agree with the suggestion that safeguarding should be inspected and rated separately by Ofsted, with the most recent safeguarding rating included in full Ofsted reports but graded separately to the overall Ofsted rating. (18% disagree)
  • 61% of parents agree with the suggestion that safeguarding should be inspected as part of overall Ofsted inspections and taken into account in the overall grade, but with failings assessed in terms of seriousness rather than automatically resulting in an overall requires improvement” or inadequate” rating. (25% disagree)
  • 24% of parents agree with the current approach whereby safeguarding is inspected as part of overall Ofsted inspections and any failure on safeguarding should prevent a school from being given a good” or outstanding” rating (59% disagree)

Frequency of inspections

65% of parents support conducting safeguarding evaluations every 1–2 years, and 49% of parents support conducting
full inspections at least once every 4–5 years

Communicating inspection results

  • 16% of parents are satisfied with the current approach of having one single overall grade for the school as a whole, e.g. Outstanding, Good (72% dissatisfied, 49% very dissatisfied)
  • 47% of parents would support having an overall grade for the school as a whole, plus separate grades for each of the inspection areas, e.g. Quality of Education, Leadership and Management (41% disagree)
  • 55% of parents would support providing separate grades for each of the inspection areas, but no overall grade for the school as a whole (28% disagree)
  • As a separate suggestion to the inspections process, 70% of parents would support giving schools a 3 month period following an inspection to fix any issues before being reinspected, with a report published after the reinspection (14% disagree)

Open comments 

The most common elements raised by parents in 512 open comments included:

  1. Ofsted inspections should be more collaborative/​supportive (127 mentions)
  2. Inspection system needs overhauling / is not fit for purpose (114 mentions)
  3. Ofsted inspections are too pressurised and stressful for teachers (109 mentions)
  4. Reports don’t truly represent how good the school is (108 mentions)
  5. Additional factors should be taken into account in inspections (70 mentions)
  6. The inspection system has the wrong priorities (58 mentions)
  7. There should be no single grading system for schools (56 mentions)
  8. Concerns around the negative consequences / punitive aspect of inspections (48 mentions)

Download the full results

Our methodology 

Parentkind’s poll on school inspections was carried out online between 20th June and 5th July 2023, with recruitment through Parentkind’s own panel of parent contacts and through social media. Responses from both channels provided almost identical responses. In total, 819 parents with school-age children in England responded.