When will Ofsted inspections return?


Ofsted will return to inspecting schools little by little when checks resume, its chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said.

Ruling out a “frenzy” of inspections, she spoke at the Schools and Academies Show to reassure school staff that inspections will return “sensitively and sensible and in a gradual way”.

Ms Spielman acknowledged that several parties have concerns over the suspension of Ofsted activities lasting longer than is needed, with inspections potentially set to get back underway in the New Year.

In addition, she said the inspectorate recognises the different challenges being faced by schools in different parts of the country and that plenty of thought is being given to the “context schools are working in”.

“[Ofsted is] absolutely not going to be going out looking to find fault with people about how they’ve handled their approach to the pandemic,” she said. “We’re not going to be retrospectively judging people back on what they did last summer”.

Her comments come after education secretary Gavin Williamson told the show that a decision on when inspections resume will be made in the coming weeks.

Having tentatively suggested that Ofsted will resume operations in early 2021, he said the decision will ensure that schools have adequate time to be ready.

Ms Spielman has sought to reassure headteachers by saying that “catch up timetables” and “an inspection frenzy” to get back to the old cycle of inspections will not happen.

“Clearly that would not be feasible, and we don’t have the staff to do it – that would put unreasonable pressure on the system,” she added.

It is estimated that thousands of inspections have been missed since they were shelved in March at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ofsted visited numerous schools in the autumn, but Ms Spielman has always maintained that they were to support schools through the crisis, and she described the response to these visits as “overwhelming”.

“We achieved what we set out to do – which is to make something supportive and constructive for schools,” she said.

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