Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation

Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation, summarises the reasons for carrying out research at Ofsted:

Why we do research at Ofsted?

Since joining Ofsted and taking on a role in our Research and Evaluation team, I have from time to time been asked ‘why does Ofsted do research?’. It is a fair question. After all, as some have noted, Ofsted is not a research organisation.

The first answer is that we want to be as sure as we can be that we are looking at the right things when we inspect and regulate. To do so, we need to follow the best evidence on what good and effective provision is. That means looking at the existing evidence base, but also carrying out our own research when necessary.

When we developed the education inspection framework (EIF), for example, we started by reviewing existing research on educational effectiveness. However, we discovered that there was a lack of current research on curriculum and curriculum quality in England. So, we carried out our own research to complement that evidence base. This meant that we were able to develop a valid concept of quality of education, which has informed what we inspect.

We also use research to test new methodologies, such as the deep-dive approach we are using as part of EIF. This ensures that how we inspect as well as what we inspect are evidence based.

Acting on our evidence

For us, being research-informed is a necessary factor in doing our job well. We need to make sure that we are basing our judgements on the things that matter to the life chances of children and young people. When we have evidence of what works, it is imperative that we act on this. This is a social justice issue, because the quality of education and care matter most to the disadvantaged and vulnerable in society. They are the ones who benefit most from high-quality provision.

As a force for improvement, we also have a role to play in informing others about the quality of education and social care. Indeed, part of our statutory duty is to inform the Secretary of State on exactly this. At Ofsted, we are in a unique position to provide a birds-eye view of the system and we would not be doing our duty if we did not make productive use of this.

Doing research also allows us to inform providers on good (and not so great) practice. We have, for example, been able to provide evidence for social care providers on effective working with older children suffering from neglect and for schools and colleges on factors that most impact teacher well-being.

Our research also allows us to make an evidence-based contribution to national debates. We did this in commenting on what schools and colleges can, and importantly cannot, do in helping to reduce knife crime.

The culmination of this work is our Annual Report, which summarises what we have found out through our inspections, regulatory activities, analysis, research and evaluation.

As a responsible organisation, we also need to know whether our frameworks and methodologies are being implemented as intended and are having the outcomes we expect. That is why we now evaluate all our new frameworks and methods. We are committed to doing so in a transparent way, so we publish our evaluation work as well as our research reports. Our evaluation work is there to make sure that our frameworks and methods are fit for purpose. However, it also allows us to tweak and adapt elements that are working less well and to check for any unintended consequences of what we are doing. We aim to highlight the positives as well as where we can do better, as our recent review of the inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) framework in social care demonstrates.

Our research aims

Research and evaluation lie at the heart of what we want to achieve as a regulator and an inspectorate. However, we cannot do just any research and evaluation work, of course. We need to make sure that we align what we do to our role and goals, and that we link everything we do to our strategy.

We aim for our work to have an impact either on our own future work or on the remits that we inspect. Our role is not to do fundamental research or to rack up academic publications. We intend for our work to be practical, policy-focused and accessible, and that is reflected in how we publish our findings. Although we may in future publish some of our work in academic journals, this is not our primary aim.

Research methodology

We also do not hold a particular view on research methodology. We are pragmatic and eclectic in the methods we use, valuing both quantitative and qualitative research for the different insights that they can bring. Methods follow questions in our approach.

We commission some of our research, such as our off-rolling survey, from other organisations, though we do most in-house. We typically, though not exclusively, draw on the insights from our inspectors and on inspection evidence, but we have also used questionnaires and analysis of existing data.

In our coming research and evaluation programme, we are looking to expand our methods toolbox further. Across research and evaluation projects, we are committed to transparency on methods, rigour in how we work and full adherence to ethical guidelines.

Future projects

So, what are our plans for the next 2 years?

In social care, we are continuing our existing ‘good decisions’ programme, where we look at how decisions are made. This includes, for example, looking at how children are matched with foster carers. We are also carrying out more joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs). The first one will be on children’s mental health. All these projects will help us to inform the sector on good practice. We will also be looking at the impact that the ILACS framework and social care common inspection framework (SCCIF) have had in the social care sector.

In schools, we will be continuing our programme of work on behaviour. This follows on from the first phase of work we reported on in our recent commentary. Our biggest new programme will be the re-introduction of thematic subject reviews. For this, we will be using data from inspection deep dives to look at the state of the nation in different subject areas across key stages. The first subjects we will be researching will be mathematics and languages. We will be looking at financial decision-making on inspection, to see whether this gives us more insight into the quality of leadership and management. We will also be carrying out research on alternative provision and doing further work on stuck schools.

In further education and skills (FES), we are doing a research project on work-based learning and carrying out an evaluation of apprenticeship subcontracting. We will also be looking at the reliability of inspection and will continue our work on reviewing the literature on effective practice in FES.

In early years, we are looking at how providers develop the 3 prime areas of learning in the early years foundation stage (EYFS). We will also look at the role of chains of providers and regulation. Both of these projects will also include cross-remit work with social care.

And, of course, we are evaluating the implementation and, later, the impact of the EIF in schools, early years and FES. This will be alongside doing a study on the impact of grading providers across our remits.

Next steps

As you can see, we are planning a varied programme of work. What all these projects have in common is that they will continue to contribute to the main aims of research and evaluation at Ofsted:

  • informing our inspection and regulatory work
  • evaluating what we do
  • providing a birds-eye view of the system in the remits that we inspect and regulate

To be a force for good in the lives of children and young people means knowing what works and what does not work in order to provide them with the best possible education and care. It also means acting on that information in our inspection and regulatory work. That is what we do, and that is why we do research and evaluation at Ofsted.

Daniel Muijs, Ofsted’s Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation

Want to find out more?

A new series of six short films feature Daniel Muijs, Deputy Director, Research and Evaluation, on Ofsted’s research functions.

He covers why Ofsted engages in research, the role it plays, the teacher wellbeing report and much more.

Daniel talks about the broad programme of research and evaluation work and how that research feeds into inspector training.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page