'No apology' as schools told Ofsted inspector has Covid

Exclusive: Inspectors' visits to two schools just before testing positive could 'easily' have been carried out remotely, say heads
20th December 2020, 1:21pm
Claudia Civinini

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'No apology' as schools told Ofsted inspector has Covid

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/no-apology-schools-told-ofsted-inspector-has-covid
Ofsted Visit Inspector Tests

Ofsted has been accused of showing a "lack of duty of care" after an inspector tested positive following a visit to two Norfolk schools.

On Thursday, the leaders at both schools were informed that the inspector had developed symptoms within 48 hours of the visit, and subsequently tested positive for Covid.


Related: Why Ofsted inspectors fear becoming 'Typhoid Mary'

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NEU: Stop risky visits by 'irrelevant' Ofsted, say teachers


According to Jessica Balado, chair of the Norfolk's heads association Educate Norfolk, there has been no apology from Ofsted to the two schools involved.

She told Tes: "Ofsted haven't directly been in contact with either school other than a phone call on Thursday morning.

"There's been no follow up, there's been no duty of care, there's been no apology, and I think that's part of it.

"We understand Ofsted has a role to fulfil, but they also should have a duty of care to us, this evidently shows a complete lack of it."

Ms Balado complained in a letter she sent to the local MP George Freeman that the visits could have been run online without putting the schools at unnecessary risk.

She wrote: "Having spoken to the head teachers at both schools, it is apparent that the visits could easily have taken place remotely; the inspectors did not tour the schools, nor did they speak to pupils.

"They did not request any information that could not have been shared via a Teams meeting or email. There was in fact no reason for them to have entered the school building at all."

While no pupils have been put at risk, what angered the schools community was how Ofsted followed up on the incident.

Ms Balado wrote in the letter: "Thankfully, no pupils have been put at risk, but it has impacted on the entire senior leadership teams in both schools."

Tes understands that those who took part in meetings had to self isolate and be tested - although, fortunately, they tested negative.

The letter continues: "After an initial phone call yesterday (17th December), Ofsted have not followed up with any after care checks to ensure the schools were able to continue to open, nor has an apology or even written/ email confirmation been received.

She continued: "As head teachers, we have grave concerns about the way in which Ofsted engages with schools and how policy is implemented and justified.

"Had either head teacher felt able to, they would have challenged Ofsted on their insistence to carry out a face to face visit, but it was made very clear that this was something they were not permitted to challenge. This is another instance where accountability measures appear to be given greater priority to the health, safety and well-being of school communities."

This is not the first time that Ofsted visits during the pandemic have generated controversy.

As Ofsted inspectors raised fears of becoming 'Typhoid Mary' as early as September, in October, a London primary shut after an inspector tested positive following a visit to the school. 

Ofsted declined to comment. 

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