Ofsted won't say how many parents have praised schools

Headteachers 'cannot see why it is difficult for Ofsted to provide updated figures' on parents' emails

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus school closures: Ofsted has declined to say how many emails it has received from parents in support of schools' online learning provision

Ofsted is refusing to say how many emails it has received from parents praising schools.

The watchdog has received a flood of positive messages from families since last week, when education secretary Gavin Williamson encouraged parents to report their school to Ofsted if they were unhappy with its remote learning provision.

By Monday night, the inspectorate had received 11,000 emails from parents – many of whom spoke positively about their children's schools – up from 5,000 on Friday.

But when asked by Tes for an update on the number this morning, the watchdog refused to provide a new figure.

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he could not "see why it is difficult for Ofsted to provide updated figures on the number of contacts it receives from parents".

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"Let's remember that it was the education secretary who started this in a statement to the House of Commons, and Ofsted can hardly be surprised that this has created public interest," he said. 

"The education secretary's statement encouraged parents to complain about any problems with remote education. We are pleased that many parents have, in fact, used this opportunity to praise their children’s schools."

Meanwhile, it is understood that volunteers from across Ofsted may need to step in and help the watchdog's call centre team sort through the backlog of emails.

Last week, Mr Williamson told MPs that families should complain to the school first, and then ultimately to Ofsted, if they feel their child is not receiving enough remote learning during school closures.

All pupils in England – except the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – have moved to remote education until mid-February amid school closures.

Department for Education guidance says remote learning on offer "will include both recorded or live direct teaching time, and time for pupils to complete tasks and assignments independently".

On Monday, Ofsted published its own guidance on effective remote education, which suggested that live online lessons were not always the best solution.

The advice, written by the head of Ofsted's research team, Professor Daniel Muijs, said: "Live lessons are not always more effective than asynchronous approaches.

"There are some specific difficulties in doing live lessons. It can be hard to build in interaction and flexibility. This means that giving feedback can actually be less effective than when we use recorded lesson segments followed by interactive chats, or tasks and feedback."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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