Lockdown: Ofsted updates Covid inspection guidance

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Ofsted has updated its autumn guidance for schools to confirm that its “visits” during the second national lockdown will take place remotely.

Normal full inspection of schools remains suspended and are currently due to restart in January.

However, this term Ofsted has been visiting schools to look at how they are operating during the pandemic and what kind of provision pupils are receiving. These inspections do not lead to graded judgements but do result in Ofsted publishing a letter summarising its conclusions.

In its updated guidance, published on Tuesday (November 3), Ofsted confirmed that in light of the second national lockdown, which is due to run for four weeks from Thursday, November 5, it will “carry out our work remotely where we can” (Ofsted, 2020a).

Inspectors will be “only going on site where it is necessary to do so, or in response to urgent concerns”.

The guidance states: “Our programme of autumn visits to schools and colleges will take place remotely from November 5. We will continue to carry out our regulatory work in early years and social care to respond to safeguarding concerns or breakdown in leadership, and continue our additional inspections of independent schools. We’ll continue our investigatory work into unregistered schools/early years provision. Local area SEND visits are paused.

“We will carry out monitoring visits to any children’s home, residential special school or residential family centre where we risk assess that this is the right thing to do. This could be on site or off site, or a blended approach.

“In both social care and early years settings, we will continue to visit settings where we have significant safeguarding concerns. We will continue with registration work. We will continue with enforcement activity where necessary.”

Ofsted published its first summary report last month based on its September pilot Covid inspections. Among its conclusions, it said that misinformation about Covid-19, often peddled on social media, is causing “confusion and parental anxiety” and was hampering schools’ efforts to fully re-open this term. It also attacked the problems caused by unclear guidance from local and national government (SecEd, 2020; Ofsted, 2020b; Spielman, 2020).

  • Ofsted: Guidance: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update, last updated November 2020a: https://bit.ly/384J4mK
  • Ofsted: Research and analysis: Covid-19 series: Briefing on schools September 2020, October 2020b: https://bit.ly/3lpvkWT
  • Spielman: HMCI commentary: findings from visits in September, Ofsted, October 2020: https://bit.ly/3nr6Jmn
  • SecEd: Covid-19: Online misinformation and unclear national guidance hampering schools, October 2020: https://bit.ly/3mKewL0


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