26% of Ofsted inspection deferral bids rejected as requests rise

One in 20 schools requested to defer an inspection between September and November

One in 20 schools requested to defer an inspection between September and November

14 Dec 2021, 10:52

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Around a quarter of requests from schools to defer Ofsted inspections have been turned down since September, with requests almost tripling over the course of the term as Covid pressures deepen.

The schools watchdog today released a monthly breakdown of inspection deferral requests accepted and declined this term. 

In total, 88 schools requested to defer inspections with 65 (74 per cent) accepted and the remaining 23 (26 per cent) turned down.

While state schools made up 90 per cent of these requests, both maintained and independent schools experienced similar deferral acceptance rates – 74 and 75 per cent respectively. 


Between September and November, Ofsted conducted 1,365 inspections. This new data suggests five percent of schools – one in 20 – requested a deferral during this period.

But the monthly breakdown suggests growing pandemic pressures pushed more schools to request deferrals as the term went on. 

In October, 14 state schools requested to defer their inspection. This had almost tripled by November to 38 requests. 

October saw the lowest rate of acceptance as 29 per cent of requests – four – were declined by the inspectorate. 

In September, just 11 requests were lodged, the lower figure is likely due to Ofsted not restarting inspections until a week after schools returned. 

There were 17 deferral requests in December despite Ofsted cancelling routine visits from this week.

The pause allows schools to use the final days of term to consider Omicron contingency measures for January. 

The new data does not specify the reason behind the deferral requests. However Ofsted previously stated that as of November 17, around two-thirds of Covid-related deferrals had been accepted. 

These mostly related to disruptions caused by significant staff or pupil absences, it said. 

Last week, chief inspector Amanda Spielman said she thought “more than three-quarters” of requested deferrals had been granted.

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