Despite full inspections being postponed until January next year, Ofsted inspectors have announced a separate programme of visits to schools and colleges starting in September.
The inspectorate says part of the focus will be on the provision of “blended learning”, which is the mix of on-site and remote education schools provide.
The visits will not be graded, but the outcomes of discussions with school leaders will be published in a brief letter so that parents can understand what steps are being taken to help children back into full-time education, Ofsted says.
Tension: DfE set to intervene in Ofsted row
DfE guidance for schools returning in September says that, in the event of a new coronavirus outbreak, schools may be advised to close temporarily – in which case, remote education plans should be in place.
And in its announcement today, Ofsted said it would look at “how leaders are ensuring pupils resume learning the school’s extant curriculum, including the blend of classroom teaching and, where necessary, remote education”.
Inspectors will also look at:
- Identifying the barriers schools have faced and are still facing in managing the return to full education for pupils.
- How pupils are settling back into expected routines and behaviours.
- How any identified and specific health and wellbeing issues for particular pupils are being addressed and what may be needed at local and/or national level to support this.
Ofsted says that it will "visit all 'inadequate' schools and a sample of schools across the other Ofsted grades ('outstanding', 'good', 'requires improvement')".
It will not judge schools on their response to Covid-19 during the spring and summer terms of 2020, and will not require teachers to prepare any lesson plans or examples of assessment, or to put up any displays for the visit.
It says plans for a return of full inspections from January 2021 will be “kept under review”.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: "Our visits will look at how schools and colleges are getting pupils back up to speed after so long at home.
"And we will help them through collaborative conversations, without passing judgement – this isn’t inspection by stealth. We’ll use our visits to listen to school leaders’ experiences and plans, and to provide constructive challenge."
She added: "We all share the same aim – helping this unique generation make up for lost time and get the high-quality education they deserve."