Supporting School Inspection and Policy Management using SharePoint


Using the features of SharePoint Server 2013 to support policy management in preparation for ISI or OFSTED Inspection.


How many policies do you have to manage in school today? How many school managers spend more time managing policies and making sure inspection documentation is up to date just in case the inspectors come knocking? Wouldn’t you prefer to leave that alone so you can concentrate on teaching and learning?

I’ve been working on a great set of features for one of our valued schools this week that required no extra development. Making use of some great out of the box features to help support the process of school policy management and remove the headaches associated with the process.

The school in question is an independent school with over 1000 pupils across from the age of 3 to 18.  The school is inspected on a regular cycle by the Independent Schools Inspectorate following a published set of guidelines very similar those used in the OFSTED framework.  As part of the process, schools are required to maintain a set of policies on everything from Anti-Bullying, to Safe Recruitment and Boarding Standards.  The school in question has a collection of seventy-two different regulatory and non-regulatory policies that are all cross referenced to inspection standards, all of which are reviewed by SMT on an annual basis and by the full board of governors every three years. The audit process is reportable as part of the initial collection of data when notification of inspection is sent to the school.  

No easy task to keep on top of, but the solution, of course was SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise. We could make use of some of the great new features of SharePoint Server and some of those available from 2010. Sadly this is another feature not yet available in Office 365 but I’m sure it will be eventually.

We started off with a standard document library on the SMT site. Nothing out of the ordinary there but we created a site content type that allowed us to define:

  • The policy name
  • The date when SMT last reviewed
  • The name of the policy owner, (the person or team responsible for review)
  • The governor’s committee responsible for overview
  • The date for governor review
  • The publish status of the policy, and
  • A cross-reference code to the ISI Inspection Framework which forms part of the managed Metadata term set.

Making the documents flow

Once the content type was set up, the next stage was to build the workflow that would manage the policy management process.  We decided to build a reusable workflow that we could base on the ‘Policy Document’ content type. That way we could be sure there would be a reference column.

The workflow makes great use of the new Stage features for SharePoint 2013 allowing the process to recycle and look back in the event of a rejection.  The diagram below gives a brief outline of the review process that we then constructed a SharePoint 2013 workflow for. I have removed some of the audit trail to keep the diagram simple.  A second workflow is created to control the review cycle.

Policy workflow
A simple diagram of the policy review process

Policy Status

The key to driving the publishing process it was important as we will see later how this drives the ability to show policies, not only within the same site collection, but also across the farm.

As part of the design process the school highlighted a series of steps through which a policy would be processed.

  • Draft
  • Sent to SMT
  • SMT Approved
  • SMT Rejected
  • Send to Committee
  • Committee Approved
  • Committee Rejected
  • Returned to Owner
  • Sent to Full Governors
  • Full Governors Reviewed (as this was an oversight process, not approval)
  • Full Governors Concern (Return to committee)
  • Published
  • In Review

We were able to set this policy status as part of the workflow and then use this to drive the content roll-up parts to display the correct policies to the right groups within the school. At each stage of the process the date was fed back to the SharePoint list.

In part two of this post, I’ll show you the workflow and how we were able to use some of the great enterprise features to complete the solution.