Ofsted

ASCL demands Ofsted let Covid-hit schools defer inspections

School leaders' union ASCL has written to Ofsted asking for a change in policy

School leaders' union ASCL has written to Ofsted asking for a change in policy

Headteachers are calling on Ofsted to defer schools inspections on request so those in Covid “crisis mode” are not “unfairly punished”.

School leaders’ union ASCL has written to the watchdog formally requesting a change in policy. There are grounds for deferral already, but heads say the bar is “set very high”.

Geoff Barton, ASCL’s general secretary, said it isn’t fair to “insist that schools must be inspected when they are in crisis mode”.

“The circumstances vary between schools so we are not calling for a general moratorium on inspections, but for Ofsted to grant deferrals on request,” he added.

“There is a deferral process already in place but the bar for deferrals is set very high and isn’t suitable for this situation.”

Routine inspections started again in September, after being suspended during the pandemic. Around 500 inspections took place between September and October half term.

Headteachers have told Schools Week how the watchdog is not following through on its promise to consider the toll of covid on schools this term.

Analysis has found two in five Ofsted reports this term include only a “stock” reference to the pandemic.

ofsted
Geoff Barton, ASCL’s general secretary

Limited reasons for deferral already exist. Schools can request one if they have concerns about the timing of the inspection or visit. Ofsted said it would judge each case on its own merits.

But Barton said “lots” of schools are “juggling online learning and in-person teaching with different groups of pupils at different points in time and with fewer staff available” because of the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“Inspectors won’t be able to form a valid judgement because they aren’t seeing the school as it operates normally,” Barton added. “An inspection in these circumstances just adds to the pressure and could end up unfairly punishing a school if it results in an adverse judgement.”

He added that changes to the inspection handbooks to take covid into account “don’t go far enough in recognising very serious disruption”.

ASCL say the only exception to deferral would be where there are “serious safeguarding concerns” or “concerns about a breakdown in leadership in management”.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Because of the impact of the pandemic, we are granting many schools’ requests to defer their inspections.

However, it wouldn’t be right to simply accept any and every deferral. Not every school is the same, so it’s important that decisions are based on individual circumstances.

“An automatic right to defer would allow schools to postpone an inspection whatever their situation. That could result in serious issues and concerns slipping under the radar, and we have a duty to children and parents not to allow that.”

The move is backed by fellow leaders’ union NAHT. Nick Brook, deputy general secretary, said: “The government should back schools and children by pausing inspection, so that all the focus can be where it should be: on the most important task of helping children’s education and wellbeing to recover.”



More from this theme

Ofsted

Omicron: Ofsted says inspections will ‘carry on as usual’

Ofsted inspections will go ahead as normal despite the discovery of the new Omicron Covid variant, the watchdog has...

James Carr
Ofsted

Large online educators face £10k bill for Ofsted accreditation visits

The watchdog has warned the online education sector is currently ‘completely unregulated’

James Carr
Ofsted

ITT providers ‘alarmingly selling specific pedagogies’ as ‘be all and end all’, Ofsted says

Some initial teacher training providers inspected under the new Ofsted framework were “misinforming trainees” by teaching them only specific...

Samantha Booth
Ofsted

‘It’s the right time’: Amanda Spielman defends inspecting Covid-hit schools

The chief inspector came under fire from school leaders at an event who called routine Ofsted inspections mid-Covid "profoundly...

Tom Belger
Ofsted

Ofsted questions arts ‘carousel’ at KS3

Watchdog official says teaching music only in part of the year could affect pupils 'aural memory'

Freddie Whittaker
Ofsted

‘Outstanding’ schools not inspected for 15 years downgraded in first Ofsted reports

Those downgraded have not been inspected for a combined 235 years

James Carr

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *