Stop risky visits by ‘irrelevant’ Ofsted, say teachers

NEU calls for Ofsted school visits to be halted over 'health dangers', after news that primary closed when inspector tested positive for Covid
2nd November 2020, 5:44pm

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Stop risky visits by ‘irrelevant’ Ofsted, say teachers

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/stop-risky-visits-irrelevant-ofsted-say-teachers
The National Education Union Has Called For Ofsted Visits To Stop Over Health Concerns.

The NEU teaching union has called for Ofsted visits to schools this term to be halted over concerns that they could present "a health danger" to schools.

Maru Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said that inspectors going from school to school during a pandemic "can do no other than increase the risks" faced by teachers.

She was commenting following the revelation that a school in London has been forced to close following a visit from an Ofsted inspector who then tested positive for Covid-19.


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Dr Bousted also said the visits were also a distraction to school leaders who were focused on trying to keep schools Covid secure and supporting pupils.

"Ofsted should not be making school leaders jobs any more difficult at a time when it is already immensely difficult," she said.

"We already know that one school has had to close after a visit when the inspector then tested positive.

"Schools are working hard to try to keep Covid secure and to support their pupils and the last thing they need is Ofsted taking up five or six hours of their time only to discover the blindingly obvious about what is happening in schools."

The NEU's call for the visits to be halted comes as the Association of School and College Leaders has suggested they be moved online.

Ms Bousted added: "Ofsted inspectors going from school to school can do no other than increase the risks faced by schools.

"The very last thing that should be on schools' minds as they get through a very challenging year are the needs of an irrelevant inspectorate.

"The practical difficulties and health dangers caused by Ofsted visits to date should be enough of a red flag. 

"Now is not the time for inspections, whether in person or virtual. For schools, the unwelcome visitor of Covid is quite enough.

"If Ofsted is experiencing an existential crisis about its relevance, then there is no reason for this to be taken out on hard-working headteachers, teachers and support staff.

"Should inspectors wish to be useful, they can, of course, volunteer their services as teachers - to get class sizes down, help schools focus on pupil needs, and join the national effort in getting through this crisis."

Ofsted is planning to visit more than 1,000 schools this term to check on how well pupils are being supported to return to full-time education following the first coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.

The visits are not routine inspections and do not result in schools being given an inspection grade. 

However, Ofsted is publishing a letter with findings about each school that it visits, which has proved controversial, with school leaders' unions saying it will make the process feel like an inspection.

And the NAHT school leaders' union has been told by Ofsted that its visits are actually a form of inspection after the union started a legal challenge in order to establish the status of the visits.

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