Ofsted chief warns of routine school inspection delay

2020-05-04

Routine school inspections are unlikely to happen for the rest of the current academic year, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman has said.


Members of the Parliamentary education committee were briefed via video link about how the inspectorate plans to operate moving forwards.


Ms Spielman said she was “not expecting to be asked to resume full routine inspections before the end of the summer term”, especially given uncertainty over how and when schools will reopen.


Ofsted has not carried out inspection activity since mid-March, in line with wider government restrictions to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.


Although Ms Spielman was unable to say exactly how future inspections might work, she did stress that they would have an essential role to play in how Ofsted operates.


“We’re going to have a year where there are going to be no tests and exam results, so there is going to be more weight, not less weight, put on the outcomes of Ofsted visits,” she explained.


Ms Spielman added that the inspectorate will need to use all of the tools at its disposal on the way to resuming full inspections, including carrying out various types of shorter visits.


She also explained that current uncertainty over how schools might return makes it difficult to tell those in teaching jobs when inspections might occur.


Ofsted’s deferral policy, which gives schools the ability to delay inspections under certain circumstances, is also under constant view, with Ms Spielman suggesting there might come a point when delays need to be considered.


The chief inspectorate took the opportunity to say that schools will not be judged on their responses to the epidemic and that the quality of education being delivered will continue to take centre stage in future inspections.


Since schools were told to close, more than 230 Ofsted staff have worked alongside councils to help schools rated ‘inadequate’, the inspectorate’s chief operating officer, Matthew Coffey, told the committee.


This work is primarily targeted at schools that have struggled to make improvements between inspections, in addition to those where ratings are low.


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