Ofsted plans school visits to boost SEND provision


Ofsted will carry out school visits from October to ascertain how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on education provisions for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Inspectors are expected to work within local community areas, with support from the Care Quality Commission, to understand what has worked well for those youngsters and how improvements can be made in future.

Rather than full SEND inspections, as would usually be the norm, Ofsted will carry out interim visits to schools and has published guidance on what teachers can expect.

Under the plans, inspectors will talk to children and their families to understand the situation, while meeting education, health and care leaders.

These visits are not designed to be inspections but should provide insight into how the SEND system in a particular area is working.

While participation in the visits is voluntary, Ofsted did tell Schools Week that serious concerns could prompt emergency action.

A spokesperson reiterated that school inspections remain suspended, before adding: “If very serious concerns about a school came to our attention, we could choose to carry out an emergency inspection using Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s (HMCI) discretionary powers.”

There is also the potential that full inspections could be planned for schools for next year when they can return, should Ofsted think it is required.

A new SEND framework is already in development, and Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has sought to reassure schools of the inspectorate’s plans.

“Our joint visits to local areas with the Care Quality Commission will be collaborative and supportive, designed to support and strengthen the whole SEND system at this time, building on what has worked well and the lessons learned during this disruptive period,” she explained.

Regular local area SEND inspections to run separately to main school inspections and focus specifically on how provision serves those who require it.