The Inspection Cycle

The Inspection Cycle

Colleges inspected by ISI for Educational Oversight (EO) go through a four-year cycle. In the first year, colleges have a full Educational Oversight (EO) inspection, followed in years 2, 3 and 4 by shorter Monitoring Visits (MVs). A college may skip an MV if it achieves a grade of ‘Exceeds Expectations’. At the end of the four-year cycle, all colleges must confirm that they want to continue in Educational Oversight.

Our inspection schedule for the year is divided into four phases and all applicants will be informed of their inspection phase (that is, the period during which they may expect to be inspected). Colleges may request an inspection in an earlier or later phase but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate the request. Inspection must occur within 10 to 14 months of the previous inspection.

A full EO inspection takes place over three days. These inspections focus primarily on the quality of student outcomes, teaching and learning, and whether the published Standards are being met. Inspections include observation of classes, scrutiny of students’ work, interviews with students and staff, and scrutiny of college documentation. 

Monitoring Visits (MVs) are for colleges that have successfully passed an Educational Oversight inspection. MVs are short inspections lasting one or two days. They are designed to report on whether colleges are making progress against recommendations from the previous inspection and to ensure that standards are being maintained.

A college that receives a ‘Needs Improvement’ judgement must submit an action plan within thirty days detailing how issues identified in the report will be resolved. It is then required to have a one-day Follow-up Visit within six months. Follow-up Visits are arranged to check on the progress of the planned improvements.

See below for more information on action plans.

More information on the different types of inspection is contained in the Inspection Guidance document, which is sent out once your application for an Educational Oversight inspection has been approved.

The Lead Inspector produces a report based on the evidence gathered by the team during the inspection. The report is submitted for quality assurance checks. The college then receives a draft of the report for factual accuracy checking (FAC), usually three weeks after the inspection.

Please note that FAC is an opportunity to check the factual accuracy of the report only. For example, to ensure the college address or the type of courses a college offers are correct. The findings and judgements in the report will reflect the oral feedback the college received at the end of the inspection, although the exact wording is likely to be different. Any concerns you may have about reporting should be taken up in the first instance with the Lead Inspector during the inspection or separately by letter to the ISI PFE Office. 

If you are required to submit an action plan, it should include details of how the college will respond to the actions and recommendations within the inspection report. You should clearly state:

  • the action to be taken
  • who is responsible
  • key deadlines
  • the intended outcomes for each of the recommendations

The action plan should also indicate when the college feels it will be ready for the follow-up visit, which must take place within six months of the last inspection. The action plan will then be reviewed by ISI to ensure that it meets the EO requirements. 

Further information about how to produce an action plan can be found in the Inspection Guidance – Annex 5.