Ofsted will not downgrade the rating of any schools this term over concerns about their remote learning provision during the national lockdown.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday that the watchdog would be "enforcing" the government's expectations for remote education and would inspect where it had serious concerns.
However, any inspections that take place this term over remote learning will be for monitoring only and will not result in a graded judgement, Tes understands.
Headteachers: Remote learning threat 'is disgraceful'
Online learning: Parents can complain to Ofsted about home-school offer
Ofsted is returning to inspecting schools this term with monitoring visits taking place from Monday 18 January.
Guidance published by the Department for Education today says that these inspections will provide assurance that pupils in schools are receiving the best possible education – whether through classroom teaching or remote education.
The department is now in discussion with Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman about how these will be carried out.
Coronavirus: Ofsted inspections of remote learning
Ofsted has not said, after being asked by Tes, whether these monitoring inspections will be carried out in person or remotely.
Its visits to schools last term were carried out remotely during the previous lockdown in November.
This week the government set out the role it wanted Ofsted to play in overseeing remote education.
The DfE has told schools that they need to provide between three to five hours of work for pupils depending on their age and that online learning should include a video lesson.
Mr Williamson told MPs yesterday that Ofsted would be enforcing the statutory duty the government has put on schools and said parents could complain to the watchdog if they were unhappy with the remote learning on offer.
The NAHT school leaders' union's general secretary, Paul Whiteman, described this as a threat to schools and said this was "nothing short of disgraceful" at a time when many schools still could not access the DfE laptops they needed
Ofsted may follow up with schools where parents have concerns about their remote learning offer and this could result in a monitoring inspection.
However, any complaint from parents will not result in a full inspection where a school could be regraded.
If the regulator identifies concerns about remote learning during a monitoring inspection, it will mention this in its published letter.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “While schools and colleges are closed to most pupils, education remains a national priority.
"There are clear requirements about remote learning and our monitoring inspections this term will focus on how well these are being met, to provide reassurance to parents.
"In addition, we will consider any complaints we may receive from parents about remote learning at their children’s schools.”