Ofsted Tracker, Highlights & Insights

Welcome to SAfE’s latest Ofsted tracker, highlights and insights

This month along with Ofsted data, and inspection highlights we are asking:

What do we mean by educational equity and how can school leaders support equity at a whole school and classroom level?

Download Surrey’s January 2024 Inspection Tracker to find your school and access data by phase and cross-phase.

Ofsted Inspection Highlights for January 2024

  • This academic year there have been 38 inspections across Surrey Local Authority, this is 24% less than this time last year

  • 57% of inspections have been in maintained schools

  • 60% of inspections have been in Primary schools

  • 57% of inspections have been graded (S5)

  • Schools previously inspected in 2018/19 are in the Ofsted window

Number of Ofsted Inspections
Percentage of published graded inspections
Percentage of graded inspections
Comparison to 2022/23
Inspections in Primary Schools
Inspections in Maintained Schools

*Data only references inspection in the 2023/24 academic year

*Data correct as of 16 January 2024, for published grades

*Data compares historic Ofsted outcomes, with graded (Section 5) outcomes since September 2021

What do we mean by educational equity and how can school leaders support equity at a whole school and classroom level?

Within this article we examine the key role that senior leaders play in creating a culture of equity and inclusivity within their schools. Leaders set the vision and values for a school, providing a fundamental opportunity to shape it into a nurturing space where every pupil, regardless of the barriers they face can thrive. We also examine the key elements in achieving educational equity and provide links to further reading and training.

Educational equity can be defined as when individual pupils receive what they need to be on an equal footing with their peers. At its core, educational equity ensures access to educational resources and opportunities, enabling pupils to reach their full potential. It involves removing the barriers and biases that may prevent some pupils from achieving their best and providing additional support to pupils who need it most so they can thrive in school – this concept is not the same as equality which is about ensuring all students receive the same opportunities. Equity is about working alongside and enabling children who have encountered greater barriers to build themselves up, so they have the same prospects and vantage point as others. Equity is about acknowledging and recognising for the pupils within our schools that children do not all start from the same place.

The role of education in improving life chances is well researched and documented, it has the potential to provide pupils with a wider range of options – for school leaders in all provisions recognising and supporting this is a pivotal element of their role. Starting with strong, in depth self-evaluation, which can be supported by the Surrey Inclusion Framework, a tool which has been developed with SAfE, leaders can identify strengths and focus areas for improvement, coupling this with a high aspirations. This is an area which SAfE can support leaders with Education Equity, please contact admin@schoolsallexcel.com to discuss this in more detail.

In terms of the elements which can support pupil equity the following are a strong starting point;

Curriculum Design

A well-planned inclusive curriculum which recognises the diverse needs of pupils is a core basis within every school. Senior Leaders should ensure that their curriculum is ambitious and providing pupils with the knowledge, skills and dispositions they need to thrive in the 21st century, irrespective of their social and cultural backgrounds, SEND need or other circumstances. It is a curriculum which will provide children with the cultural capital that they need to be able to access future opportunities.

Oracy and Reading

Developing oracy and improving reading skills are essential to support pupils in being successful. Reading is a critical life skill and children who leave primary school unable to read are disadvantaged. A clear strategy for developing oracy through strategies such as teachers ‘live’ modelling and a whole school methodology for teaching vocabulary will support this. For schools with Early Years settings recognising the gaps which can exist in pupils’ exposure to language and acting on this has been shown as a successful way of preparing pupils for success in school. The NELI programme has been successfully used in schools for this.

Staff Training

A well planned professional development opportunities will support the teaching team through developing their understanding of the needs of your pupils and potential barriers to learning. Identifying the skills and knowledge needed to achieve high quality classroom practice to remove these barriers can foster the development of a professional curiosity and potentially change mindsets – a deeper understanding of inequalities is likely to contribute effectively towards achieving educational equity. Planning out training on inclusive teaching strategies, unconscious bias and making links with other settings who are further along the equity journey can further support this.

Quality First Teaching

Achieving high quality teaching is a focus for many schools – to support educational equity leaders should think carefully through how teachers are organised – placing the most effective teachers with the cohorts with the greatest needs, is a strong component of ensuring pupils are supported to achieve their best. We know that what happens in the classroom is the single biggest influence on pupil progress. When delivered inclusively, teaching can have the biggest impact of all on pupils facing the steepest barriers outside of school. Whilst recognising that there are factors which schools cannot change i.e. a lack of a quiet space at home to study or a secondary age pupil having to work part time, this does not stop teachers building a positive classroom environment and therefore, from identifying gaps in pupil knowledge and supporting them so that they make progress in lessons.


Governors have the opportunity to play a crucial role in strategic planning for educational equity through ensuring that equality a diversity are integral parts of a schools culture and vision. Working with the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team, a knowledgeable Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) link governor can ask probing questions. Governors also need to ensure that equality information is published on the school website. Involving governors in training on educational equity provides further strength to this.

Building Relationships

This is a vitally important part of developing a culture of educational equity. Throughout a pupil’s educational journey, a teacher’s understanding of pupils’ barriers to learning can be supported by regular communication both with parents/carers and pupils themselves. It is important to remember that each pupil can face a unique set of barriers to successful learning, some are immediately evident whilst others are not. Barriers can be material, cultural, educational or health related. Often schools who are successful in improving attendance for specific families have thought through carefully the communication to parents/carers.

In conclusion, achieving educational equity is a complex and ongoing challenge for school leaders and requires a clear and in-depth understanding of what it is, the barriers which prevent pupils from achieving their best and a rigorous commitment to removing the predictability of success or failures linked to social or cultural factors. It needs a whole school commitment to every child having the best life chances. As we saw during the pandemic, without schools the divide between pupils widens – schools have the potential to be the key and great levellers to strive for equity for all pupils in Surrey!


“Your visit last autumn was a catalyst for some of the transition we saw recognised today, and  prepared the team for the rigour of the inspection. As always – thank you for the insight, the feedback and the benefit of your knowledge and experience.”