• Vision
  • Digital Strategy
  • Digital Experience


Helping Ofsted work more effectively

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is a non-ministerial UK government department responsible for inspecting a range of educational institutions, including state schools and some independent schools, as well as child care, adoption and fostering agencies and initial teacher training.


Ofsted inspectors carry out hundreds of visits to schools and agencies every week and they want to enable them to work digitally. Although some inspection work is done electronically, many inspectors still rely on ink and paper to gather information, capture evidence in-the-field, and to write up reports, which then have to be sent to the office to be scanned and converted into PDF documents.

Ofsted had no consistent approach to evidence gathering and they were not making the best use of available technology during either the inspection process or in the storage and retrieval of data.

Their challenge was to modernise their systems so they could take advantage of 21st Century innovations. And the first phase of the solution was to implement  electronic evidence gathering (EEG).



Electronic evidence gathering

Rainmaker deployed a multi-disciplinary team, combining user research, service design, technical architecture and delivery management experience, to integrate with Ofsted’s internal team and deliver a three-month discovery phase.

Building on internal user research which identified opportunities to improve how evidence is captured, shared and distilled to make judgements, Rainmaker set about identifying user needs by shadowing inspectors in the field, talking to groups and individuals and assessing the technology landscape of the organisation.

Working collaboratively with Ofsted’s key stakeholders, the user research data allowed us to build a prototype solution for evidence gathering using Microsoft 365 and related products including PowerApps, Flow and Sharepoint. Within a few weeks, we were able to demonstrate the first iteration of the prototype to give inspectors a sense of how they might use it to gather, tag, sort and collate evidence to produce reports.

We were also able to identify and recommend software tools that could convert handwriting and audio to text, recognising that individual inspectors and the importance of not imposing a one-size-fits-all solution.


“It has been useful to adopt an agile approach, which is something quite new to us as an organisation and by making EEG a ‘digital exemplar’ we have shown how new ways of working can make an impact very quickly.”


Deborah Pollard, EEG Product Owner


Design & functionality at pace

With a prototype in place, Ofsted now has a better understanding of what its needs are, what problems need to be resolved, and what solutions are needed. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders and users, and leveraging innovations such as ExperienceLabs, we have been able to iterate the design.

EEG is being used as a ‘digital exemplar’ by Ofsted to demonstrate potential new ways of working. The project was not just about technology but also about culture.

EEG will act as a catalyst for future phases, which will enable Ofsted to better access the evidence captured, improving organisational insight through integration with their knowledge management system.