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Ofsted inspections temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic

@Ofsted Suspends Inspections as #COVID19 Spreads

Ofsted inspections are temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic @GavinWIlliamson has announced today (17 Mar).

We are committed to supporting schools to stay open at this difficult time. As part of our measures to help them, we are temporarily suspending routine Ofsted inspections.

— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) March 17, 2020

mary bousted

Commenting on the decision by the Education Secretary to instruct Ofsted to suspend its inspection of schools during the COVID-19 outbreak, 

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“This announcement is as welcome as it is overdue. Schools are operating in extraordinary circumstances and must be able to focus on what is essential. This does not include Ofsted inspections.”

Estyn Suspends Activities in Wales

Yesterday (16 Mar) Estyn decided to suspend all inspections to support schools and other education and training providers, and to reduce pressure.

Speaking about the suspension of Estyn inspections, and other activities, David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:

“We welcome the Chief Inspector’s plans to suspend Estyn’s activities here in Wales. It is a rapidly developing and challenging time, especially for those working in education.

“Not having to worry about an Estyn Inspection will be welcomed by our members. We welcome the pragmatic approach of the Chief Inspector, and hope that schools and colleges will receive all the support they need at this critical time.”

Adding to this, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Scotland and Wales have shown England the way. It is unacceptable for Ofsted inspections to be taking place at a time of national emergency. School leaders and staff are straining every sinew to support and protect their students. They should be allowed to focus on this, not have their stress made worse by the threat of an imminent Ofsted inspection.

Coronavirus and Ofsted Inspection deferrals

Ofsted is working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) and monitoring the situation day by day. In line with current government advice, normal inspection activity should be maintained as far as possible.

However, the spread of the virus presents serious challenges for providers that are affected. In line with the potential for this to be an ‘exceptional circumstance’, we will carry out a risk-assessment with the providers when we announce the inspection. This will give the leaders/managers of providers the opportunity to inform Ofsted about any current coronavirus impact on their provision.

Using this information, we will make an assessment and a deferral decision, as appropriate. When inspections go ahead, inspectors will be sensitive to increases in user absence or absence of key staff, and will reflect this in the inspection report.

NEU writes to AmandaSpielman calling for Ofsted to cease inspections as COVID-19 spreads

Ms Amanda Spielman
HMCI Ofsted
Clive House
70 Petty France

15 March 2020

Ofsted inspections and COVID-19


Dear Amanda,

As Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union, we are writing to urge you to cease routine Ofsted inspections of schools in England and to confine inspections only to those schools where there are safeguarding concerns.

After Friday’s crass Ofsted statement, we note the more emotionally intelligent statement on Saturday, that Ofsted is monitoring the situation closely and is in daily contact with the DfE.

We agree with your observation that: ‘The spread of COVID-19 poses serious challenges to schools, colleges, childcare and social care providers – not least the potential impact on attendance and staffing.’

However, we are very concerned, given the serious challenges that COVID-19 poses for schools, that Ofsted is still planning to conduct inspections. We fail to understand that, in light of the Government’s decision to move to the ‘delay’ phase, Ofsted has revised its deferral policy to defer inspections on providers that are ‘affected’.

We have to ask the question – can you name any school in England which has not been affected by COVID -19?

Even if there are no reported cases in schools, all leaders and staff are highly alert and responding to a range of pressing concerns and issues about the management of COVID-19, all of which involve changes to school routines and an intensification of already excessive workloads.

These responses include:

  • Responding to and managing parental and student anxiety about the virus
  • Implementing the frequent and multiple changes in the DfE guidance on COVID-19
  • Ensuring schools and pupils are as safe as they can be from becoming infected or transmitting the virus
  • Making special arrangements for vulnerable students and staff
  • Planning work for students in the event of school closures

We note that the Scottish inspectorate has taken a different approach.  It has suspended school inspections and has made the following, sensible and reassuring statement:

During this period, we believe it is vitally important that staff working in education can focus entirely on their establishment, on supporting their colleagues, pupils and local community, and provide support where needed.

We urge Ofsted to take the same course of action – suspend school inspections now so that School Leaders can focus on what is important, not what is immediate.

Yours sincerely

Dr Mary Bousted                                             Kevin Courtney

Joint General Secretary                                Joint General Secretary

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