Coronavirus: Ofsted pauses publication of inspection reports

Ofsted has paused the publication of all inspection reports during the coronavirus crisis and promised that it will have “do the right thing” as its mantra going forward.

Deputy director for further education and skills Paul Joyce told a webinar on Saturday run by sister title FE Week that the inspectorate had taken the decision because they are “well aware providers have enough to deal with”.

“There are a number of providers that will be expecting a report to be published imminently,” he said.

“We will continue to send the report to providers but they won’t be published until further notice and we’ll obviously let providers know when that will be at some point in the future.”

Pressed on whether this meant providers ought to ignore the watchdog, Joyce said that was “very good advice”.

This decision was part of the inspectorate’s mantra to “do the right thing” going forward, he added.

Ofsted announced last week that it would suspend routine inspections until further notice. The watchdog had come under fire for not halting inspections sooner.

Joyce told the webinar a visit could now only be triggered if the inspectorate learns of safeguarding concerns or incidents which need “really urgent action”. The threshold to trigger an inspection would be “really high”, he stressed.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said last week that schools should close from today, except for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable students.

Joyce said that Ofsted is working “very closely” with the Department for Education about “potential redeployment of our staff if that’s required”, which might “include to support providers to deal with that situation”.

It has also been decided Ofsted will pause all its work around handling complaints related to inspection reports.

The watchdog will not be contacting providers in relation to new or existing complaints and they will not be sending out complaint outcomes until further notice as well.

One provider asked if they have had a report approved, can they share it with students and stakeholders. Joyce said the watchdog would not step in the way and be “stopping good news getting out” if it is a positive result.

He also gave five pieces of advice to education providers, which is to “try and do the right thing”, provide “whatever help and support you can”, “follow the advice and guidance being provided”, “keep talking with agencies” like Ofsted, and “stay well”.