Ofsted chief: Schools not expected to provide comprehensive online teaching


Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman has told schools it is not “sensible or realistic” to provide a full online programme of teaching when pupils are absent.

In a message to leaders of academy trusts, she said the upcoming planned interim visits will focus on how schools are “responding intelligently and doing what is within their capacity”.

She warned that trying to deliver a complete online programme for pupils when they are at home would cause issues for pupils, parents and teaching staff.

The government has said that schools should offer remote learning for pupils should they need to self-isolate or not be able to attend school.

‘Aspirational but realistic’

Speaking at the Trust Leaders online conference, Ms Spielman said schools will need to strike a balance between how they would like to teach and what is possible.

“One of the things that’s very important for me is to make sure that people’s expectations are realistic,” she explained. “Aspirational, but also realistic.”

Many schools across the UK turned to remote teaching to deliver lessons as the country locked down, but Ms Spielman said she recognised there are limitations.

“What I have seen some people saying in public that every school should be able to provide full on-screen taught programme for all children all the hours they would normal be in school, I have not supported that,” she said.

“I don’t see that as something that is necessarily sensible or realistic at either end.”

Understanding what is achievable

Full Ofsted inspections will not resume until January 2021 at the earliest, having been paused in March when the first school closures were announced.

In the interim, Ofsted has said it will support schools and Ms Spielman has reiterated the inspectorate’s desire not to place further pressure on head teachers.

She said she recognises that there are very few schools which have escaped disruption as a result of the pandemic and that the new visits should help to set realistic expectations of what schools can achieve.

“It’s really important for me that these autumn visits encompass the full range so that we properly understand the limitations of what’s achievable,” she added.