What do Ofsted want to see in a display?

This Blog is summary of an article published by the Key and includes Ofsted comments on school displays.

Firstly it is important that pupils have a real engagement and involvement in the production of displays, which is unlikely to be the case if they have been produced specifically with an inspection in mind.

The Ofsted report on Oakfield Primary School in Essex says:

Stunning displays throughout the school stimulate and support pupils and show their engagement in their learning. Displays illustrate the richness of the curriculum and show that all groups of learners have equal access to learning.

Classrooms display.  

Bernard Abrams, one of The Key’s associate education experts suggests that class displays of work should showcase the personal best produced by pupils of differing abilities, as well as pieces that exemplify the best progress and attainment.


Central Displays (The purpose of these displays is to generate pupil interest.)

Displays around the school should be part of an overall stimulating learning environment. As well as pupils’ work, they might include teacher-generated content (demonstrating quality of teaching) and Commercially produced material. They are also an opportunity to  provide evidence of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, an area that Ofsted inspectors will consider when evaluating the school.


At E P Collier Primary School in Reading:

Displays celebrate pupils’ achievements as well as work on literacy, numeracy, art, geography and cultures from around the world. These help to reinforce learning and extend pupils’ knowledge and understanding of multicultural Britain.

In an article in Education Plus, Paul Noble, a former headteacher and education adviser, outlines ideas for developing displays. He says:

‘When a visitor surveys your classroom they will learn just as much about you as they do when they first use your bathroom at home.’

Paul says a good display will “inform, educate, engage and brighten up the classroom walls”. He advises teachers to follow their own instincts about whether the arrangement is ordered or more random, suggesting that there are opposing views on which is better.

The Link below takes you to examples of dissplays


Displays for Learning

Have you seen that display?

Use your displays to brighten up your classroom and make it a more interesting and stimulating environment. 

Back in 2006 Dr David Smawfield published ‘Classroom and School Display’ a guide for teachers. 

Below I’ve summarised the key points and included some examples of how I’ve attempted to meet his criteria. 

A display is for learning not just decoration.

When designing your display consider it’s focus. 

  • Does it include useful direct teaching aids?
  • Will it enrich or reinforce what is being taught?
  • Does it include information that is important for students to memorise?
  • Is it part of some on-going work?
  • Will it stimulate and create pupil interest?

Show the students you value their work. 

Where ever possible I use students’ work and examples of students working in my displays. It is a powerful way of showing them that their work is valued. It creates for them, a sense of achievement. They show their friends and family and as a result classroom motivation usually demonstrates an improvement. 

Some Examples

Being A specialist sports college this display uses student’s work to show the links between Maths an Sport.

 This display is based on literacy, and acts as a direct teaching aid and includes information that is important fr students to memorise. 


This display stimulates student interest by show casing students using new technologies as part of an on-going programme to enhance their learning. Thanks LRA for support on this one.


This one includes several of the considerations, I’ll let you decide which.