Exclusive: Ofsted turned away 28 times over Covid

Inspectorate agreed to defer its controversial visits to schools on more than two dozen occasions within two months
11th December 2020, 5:00am
John Roberts

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Exclusive: Ofsted turned away 28 times over Covid

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/exclusive-ofsted-turned-away-28-times-over-covid
Covid: Schools Have Deferred Ofsted Visits On 28 Occasions In The First Two Months Of Its Controversial Visits Programme During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Ofsted's planned visits to schools this term have been deferred on 28 occasions because of Covid-19 disruption, Tes can reveal.

The inspectorate has been visiting schools during the pandemic to check on how pupils are being supported in their return to full-time education.

New figures obtained by Tes show that schools successfully persuaded Ofsted to defer because of Covid-related reasons 28 times during the first two months of the programme.

Tes can also reveal that one deferral request from a school for Covid-related reasons was refused by Ofsted.


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Ofsted said Covid-related reasons for agreeing to a deferral included schools dealing with an immediate issue, such as sending home "bubble groups" of children because of contact with a Covid case.

Covid: Ofsted school visits deferred

Routine Ofsted inspections were halted back in March at the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

However, the inspectorate has been visiting schools in person since the end of September.

It came under pressure to move its visits online earlier this term from the Association of School and College Leaders amid rising Covid cases in the country.

And Ofsted did switch to running remote visits during the one month lockdown in November and early December.

There has also been controversy surrounding the visits after a London primary school was forced to close following a visit from an inspector who then tested positive for the coronavirus.

The figures for Covid-related deferrals obtained by Tes are for a period from the start of the visits programme at the end of September until 1 December.

However, Ofsted has not revealed how many visits it has carried out overall in that period.

Between 29 September and 23 October, Ofsted's HMI carried out 380 school visits. 

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "Since we began conducting visits to schools there have been 28 deferrals (up to 1 December 2020) for Covid-related reasons.

"These were granted for multiple reasons; for example, if the provider was dealing with an immediate issue, such as arranging to send bubbles of children home."

Ofsted is set to make a return to inspecting schools in the new year.

Full graded inspections have been delayed until the summer term, having originally being planned to start again in January. 

However, the inspectorate will begin carrying out monitoring inspections of schools judged to be "requires improvement" or "inadequate" from next month.  

Ofsted has said that it will be able to carry out most of its inspection activity after taking advice from Public Health England on how to carry out its work safely.

However, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union Mary Bousted has warned that it will be "totally unacceptable" for the watchdog to send inspectors into classrooms during the pandemic. 

 

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