Schools Inspector Careers

How to become Schools Inspector

What does a Schools Inspector do?

Inspectors observe lessons, talk to pupils and teachers, look at written work, check the school’s organisation and discuss findings. Following inspection they give an oral report of their conclusions to teachers and governors, complete a record of evidence and write their report.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland schools inspectors report on the quality of education, the education standards achieved by pupils, the financial management of resources and the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils in schools.

There are four categories of independent inspectors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

  • Registered Inspectors (Reporting Inspectors in Northern Ireland): select and lead inspection teams with overall responsibility for the conduct of the inspection and for preparing the final inspection report
  • Team Inspectors: inspect particular aspects of a school’s work (such as National Curriculum subjects) and contribute their findings to the final report
  • Lay Inspectors: there should be at least one lay inspector in every inspection team, who must not have worked as an education professional
  • Registered Nursery Inspectors: conduct the inspection of funded nursery provision (without the assistance of a team) and are responsible for the report. Contact the appropriate national body (listed in Further Information) for more details about this post
In Scotland, HMIs (Her Majesty’s Inspectors) carry out inspections in schools, further education colleges and community education locations. Inspection teams usually include one lay member, and may include one or more Associate Assessors (current educational practitioners).

What's the working environment like working as a Schools Inspector?

Schools inspectors work long hours, including evenings. Inspections take place in term time. Many inspectors are employed on a part-time basis.

Work is carried out on school premises. There may be long distances to travel to and from an inspection and time spent away from home.

What does it take to become a Schools Inspector?

To be a schools inspector you should:

  • have professional knowledge of your subject or area of education and the education system (except for lay inspectors)
  • be able to work well as part of a team
  • have a methodical and meticulous approach to gathering and interpreting evidence
  • have good written and spoken communication skills
  • be tactful and diplomatic
  • be fair, honest and capable of being objective.

Schools Inspector Career Opportunities

England and Wales

Schools inspectors are not employed by OFSTED or Estyn but mainly by inspection contractors. Others work for central Government or local authorities. Few inspectors work full-time.

Northern Ireland

Inspectors are employed by the Department of Education, Education and Training Inspectorate. Team inspectors are usually recruited from senior teaching posts; lay members are recruited through public advertisement.


Her Majesty’s Inspectors, who are employed by the Civil Service, carry out schools inspections. Competition to become an HMI is always very strong.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Schools Inspector that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education)
Alexandra House
33 Kingsway
Tel: 020 7421 6800

Anchor Court
Keen Road
South Glamorgan
CF24 5JW
Tel: 029 2044 6446

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education
Tel: 01506 600200

Department of Education for Northern Ireland
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
BT19 7PR
Tel: 028 9127 9279

Facts and Stats:

  • The Ministry of Defence is British Industry''s largest single customer
  • Every year, civil servants are responsible for public spending of around £300bn
  • If every MP turned up at the chambers of the House of Commons at the same time, there would not be enough seats for them all to sit down

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