OES Code of Conduct

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The Code of Conduct relates to the inspection process and is also included in the Inspection Framework, ‘Successful Schools and Achieving Students’.

Inspectors must not only arrive at fair and accurate judgements about schools, but they must also do so in the right way.

Any assessment of professional competence can cause anxiety, and inspection is no exception to this. Inspectors will treat all the people they encounter as part of the inspection process with interest, courtesy and respect. The right of entry into schools is a privilege.

Inspectors will uphold the highest professional standards in their work. They will ensure that all members of staff are treated fairly and that schools benefit from the experience of inspection. The process will be transparent and carried out openly, with the outcomes clearly communicated to all parties.

School Inspectors are expected to:

  • be punctual for all appointments throughout the inspection;
  • make their evaluations objectively, be impartial and have no connection with the school that could undermine their objectivity;
  • present an accurate, honest, fair and reliable report of what the school does;
  • carry out all work with integrity, treating all those they meet with courtesy and sensitivity;
  • do all that they can to allay worry or anxiety throughout the inspection process;
  • act with the best interests and well-being of students, teachers and school staff in mind;
  • maintain purposeful and productive relationships and dialogue with those being evaluated;
  • communicate outcomes clearly and respect the confidentiality of information.
  • complete core inspection deliverables within the stipulated timelines and to the required level of quality.

Effective inspections are those which schools regard as fair, rigorous and helpful. If school administrators and staff respect and value the quality of inspections they will be more likely to accept and make use of the findings to help them improve.

Dress code

All inspectors must see themselves as ambassadors representing OES’s professionalism and desire to show respect for the local community. Women’s attire for work should be conservative.

Men’s attire at work should include smart suit trousers, business shirts (short- or long-sleeved when the weather permits) with a tie. Jackets should be worn when the weather permits, and although they do not have to be worn throughout the day, they should be available in school should an occasion arise where more formality is required.

Issues arising

Any concerns regarding the conduct of inspectors should be directed to the Lead Inspector in the first instance.

If the issue is judged to be minor, then the Lead Inspector will speak to the relevant inspector to find an immediate resolution. In more serious cases, whether the concern is raised by the school or another member of the inspection team, the matter should be escalated to the Director of OES for consideration and action.

Concerns regarding the conduct of the Lead Inspector should be directed to any permanent member of the OES team as soon as possible.


The Office of Education Standards will investigate any complaints raised by schools in relation to the inspectors’ code of conduct, the inspection judgements, and the quality and content of the report.

Complaints about conduct and/or judgements must be received within one week of the end of the period of inspection in school.

Complaints about the quality and content of the report must be received within one week of the school receiving the draft report.

All complaints must be made in writing and addressed to the Director of the Office of Education Standards using the e-mail contact provided with the inspection notification letter.

The Office of Education Standards aims to make an initial response to each complaint within one week of receipt. It may be necessary to undertake a quality review of an inspection following a complaint and such could involve a re-visit to a school to gather information and interview colleagues.

Last Updated 2018-07-26