Ofsted has confirmed that in-person routine inspections will not be returning until March 8 at the earliest.

The schools watchdog had originally planned to undertake remote inspections until the February half-term before reviewing its next steps.

However, new guidance published as part of the inspectorate’s rolling Covid-19 update today confirmed that planned inspection work will be carried out remotely until March 8 at the earliest.

But Ofsted can still conduct on-site inspection if it has immediate concerns over safeguarding, leadership or failure to provide education.

The watchdog’s remote inspections began last week with a “particular focus on how well children and learners are being educated remotely”.

While it had originally planned to conduct inspections this term on-site, these plans were dropped in January after inspectors rebelled and advice from the government for everyone to “act as if you have the virus”.

Inspectors can join online lesson lessons “to understand how education is being provided by the school” as part of remote inspections.

But Ofsted later clarified that joining live lessons would not be “the norm”. A spokesperson added “when inspectors need to observe remote education in action, they will generally view pre-recorded material”.