Spielman: It would be 'odd' to inspect online teaching

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman has called for a 'clear expectation' of Ofsted's remote learning role as a 'mixed economy' of children in schools and others learning from home continues
3rd May 2020, 10:55am

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Spielman: It would be 'odd' to inspect online teaching

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/spielman-it-would-be-odd-inspect-online-teaching
Ofsted

Ofsted's chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said she would like to see an expectation set out by the government on what schools should be providing to learners 'during a longer period of lockdown.'

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Ms Spielman said the government's current guidance was clear that schools were not required to deliver online learning, and this meant Ofsted should not be inspecting schools on their remote offer during the pandemic.

She said that the inspectorate 'doesn't have a mandate' at the moment 'to look at the remote work that schools are setting'  because government guidance 'makes very clear that schools are not required to teach online'. However, she added that she 'would like to see us get to a clear expectation' of what its role will be in judging remote provision by schools over what 'now seems clear is going to be a longer period of lockdown.' 

"We don't have a mandate to look at the remote work that schools are setting, and indeed the guidance that has been put out by government makes very clear that schools are not required to teach online, so it would be very odd for us to go out and say 'you are not doing this well enough' or 'you are not doing enough of it' at the point that schools have been told 'you don't have to do it'," said Ms Spielman.

"That would really create many problems for the system."


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Asked if Ofsted should be intervening to help protect against a widening disadvantage because of access to education for some children, Ms Spielman said: "The vast majority of schools are putting a great deal of effort both into assembling packages of remote learning, whether it is direct online lessons, whether it is access to some of the excellent online resources that have been put together for online use like BBC Bitesize, the Oak National Academy - there is a great deal happening.

"But all of that is still not going to add up to a full education for children and it is not going to prevent the gaps widening.

"So yes, schools can and should be doing what they can, but no, it would be wrong for us to be going around trying to judge that in the absence of any clear expectation.  I would like to see us get to a clear expectation of what during what it now seems clear is going to be a longer period of lockdown every parent can and should expect of a school, but I don't think that is going to be simply have every teacher in front of a camera every day."  

Ms Spielman also said partly due to the high number of children in households where someone was classed as at high risk from the coronavirus, it would be some time until all children would return to school, and it was unlikely parents would face being penalised for keeping children at home.

"Given that there have been substantial numbers of children in households where someone is high risk I think it is extraordinary unlikely that anybody would start at the stick end of the spectrum, rather than the carrot. I am fairly sure we will be running a sort of mixed economy of schooling for a while yet, with some children attending and some children learning as best as they can remotely."

Her comments follow increasing speculation over the weekend that the government may be considering letting primary school pupils return to school on June 1st, with year 10 and year 12 pupils to follow as the first wave of secondary pupils to go back. Other reports today suggest prime minister Boris Johnson could soon set out plans that would see pupils who have key tests or exams next year, such as Sats, GCSEs and A-levels, return to school first.

On Friday, Tes exclusively revealed the options the Department for Education (DfE) is considering as it draws up plans to reopen schools, which were put to heads as part of a consultation ahead of a government planning meeting with the UK's major teaching unions.

They include whether pupils should return on a rota basis or as part of specific year groups; and how far the government should mandate who is required to be in schools.

Asked about reports that Primary schools will return to schools first, Ms Spielman said there was "a great deal of logic in targeting younger children.

"The younger the child, the more they need that simple, structured routine where they understand what is happening. It is harder for them to go to school one day and then not for another two weeks. So I entirely recognise and see the logic in this. I also think there is a logic from the point of view of parents: the youngest children are the ones who need the greatest care and oversight."

The chief inspector said when it came to introducing social distancing rules in schools, the sector was "in the hands of the health experts to tell us what is safe and how it can be organised, and she 'wouldn't want to second guess that for one moment". However, she said there were "encouraging signs coming out that children were both somewhat less susceptible to serious complications and also seem to be less likely to transmit.

Also speaking to Sky News today, NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach said the the safety both of pupils and those working in schools had to be paramount in the government's plans for reopening schools. He said: "Schools are going to look very different for a while. There are likely to be fewer children in schools at any one time. That is what teachers want, and that is what parents want, as well. It is important that the government prioritises those concerns."

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