Ofsted delays return of graded school inspections until summer term

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
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Ofsted has unveiled details of a phased return to inspections on 2021, with no graded inspections for schools planned before the summer term.

For state maintained schools and academy schools, Ofsted will resume monitoring inspections of schools judged inadequate at their previous inspection and some schools graded as requires improvement. These will not result in a grade.

Emergency inspections of schools will continue as they have done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. These will take place in response to any serious concerns raised with Ofsted.

And Ofsted has confirmed that routine inspections, which result in a school being awarded a new grade or being confirmed in its current grade, will resume in the summer term.

In a statement, Ofsted said: “Over the coming months, Ofsted will discuss the approach to routine inspection in 2021 with sector representatives and test it through a series of pilot visits, where necessary.”

For independent schools, throughout the spring term, all inspections will be at the request of the Department for Education (DfE) and routine inspections will resume in the summer term.

Chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “The usual level of scrutiny within the education and care system has been absent since last March, so it’s important that it returns next year as we all hope for a greater level of normality. But we understand the pressure that everyone in education and social care is working under and we want to return to our usual work in a measured, sensitive and practical way.

“We will not re-introduce graded inspections to schools and colleges before April. During the spring term, we will use supportive monitoring inspections to help those that most need it, focused on how well pupils and students are learning. Routine inspections in early years and social care are also planned for the summer term, but regulatory work will continue in the interim.

“Our role is to offer the greatest assurance we can to parents and the public about the quality of education and care arrangements for children and learners. These plans will help us support the providers who are facing the greatest challenges during these difficult times. They will ensure that inspection is fair, safe and valuable, while remaining true to our core purpose and principles.”

Commenting on the news, Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Given the current restrictions on schools, it is right that routine Ofsted inspections will remain suspended during the spring term. However, it will be important for further details of the work that Ofsted will be tasked with undertaking during this period to be set out well in advance of the start of the new term.

“The government should use this pause in inspections to reflect on how the system of school accountability can more appropriately support and reflect the vital work of all schools.”


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