Exclusive: Ofsted will go into schools during lockdown

Watchdog says its inspections will require visits to schools during the coronavirus partial closures
8th January 2021, 4:30pm
John Roberts


Exclusive: Ofsted will go into schools during lockdown

Ofsted Has Said Its Inspections Will Need On Site Visits, Despite Calls From Heads For Them To Be Done Remotely During The National Lockdown.

Ofsted will be visiting schools in person when its monitoring inspections start, the watchdog has revealed.

Headteachers had called on the watchdog to carry out its monitoring inspections remotely - as it had done during the last lockdown in November - because of concerns about the spread of Covid.

However, the inspectorate has told Tes today that some of its work needs to be carried out on site in schools.

HeadsASCL call on Ofsted to rule out in person visits to schools during lockdown

Williamson: Parents can report schools to Ofsted over home learning

Quick read Heads say government's Ofsted threat on remote learning was ' nothing short of disgraceful'

First lockdown: Ofsted halts inspections as country goes into lockdown

An Ofsted spokesperson said: "Our inspections of schools will require some work on site in order to provide robust assurance to parents and others - including about the pupils who are still attending schools.

"Working on site also means inspectors will be able to access online learning platforms more easily, or speak directly to pupils and staff through a school's secure network, not from their home.

"Inspectors carrying out on-site visits will strictly adhere to required social distancing and other public health measures."  

Earlier today, Tes revealed that school leaders' union ASCL had written to Ofsted's chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, to ask her to confirm that monitoring inspections will only be carried out remotely during the national lockdown.

In response to Ofsted's comments. ASCL's director of policy, Julie McCulloch, said: "This is a very odd sort of lockdown in which the Department for Education says there is no limit on the number of pupils who should be in school, and now it seems there will be Ofsted inspectors on site in some schools, too.

"When he announced the new national lockdown, the prime minister instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

"This stark message is difficult to reconcile with the guidance to schools, which gives no idea of what might be a safer upper limit on pupil attendance, or with Ofsted's decision that inspectors need to be visiting schools, too.

"Surely, in-person Ofsted visits are hardly the most pressing priority in the midst of a national crisis, and it would be more sensible to conduct these remotely while the lockdown restrictions are in place."

Ofsted said yesterday that its monitoring inspections of schools are set to start on January 18.

The inspectorate was originally due to resume full graded inspections of schools this month but this was pushed back to the summer term last month.

Ofsted inspections were put on hold during the first national lockdown.

Last term, it carried out visits to schools to check on how pupils were being supported in their return to education.

These were done in person, apart from during the last lockdown when they moved online during November.

The monitoring inspections being carried out this term will see Ofsted visit schools that are rated as "requires improvemen" or "inadequate".

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said that Ofsted will be enforcing the government's expectations for remote learning and that parents who are unhappy with the provision on offer can complain to Ofsted.  

If Ofsted has concerns about remote learning, this may result in an inspection but schools will not be downgraded.

Mr Williamson's comments have resulted in a groundswell of support for schools from parents who have been writing to Ofsted to praise the work of their children's teachers on remote learning. 


You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters