Parents have turned the tables on Gavin Williamson by contacting Ofsted to praise schools and complain about his performance – with the inspectorate being deluged with 5,000 emails since Wednesday.
The act of defiance comes as the education secretary advised parents to contact the watchdog if they feel their child’s school isn’t providing “suitable” remote learning.
After a chaotic period of U-turns by government on its back-to-school plans, the comment was branded “tone deaf”. It came a day before actual expectations for online learning were even published for schools, and just two days after leaders found out they would now be expected to provide remote education.
Ofsted was this morning trending across Twitter as parents took to social media to voice their displeasure at Williamson and encourage others to use the newly established complaints procedure to praise the hard work of teachers.
Schools Week understands Ofsted has so far received over 5,000 emails from parents and is currently working through the backlog to sort positive messages from genuine complaints.
But the inspectorate is said to be pleased to see the waves of positive feedback flooding social media.
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, was said to be “cross” with the education secretary’s directive, according to The Telegraph.
Sources told Schools Week earlier this week that Ofsted wasn’t fully aware of its new role prior to Williamson’s announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday, leaving senior officials “furious” when they found out.
Williamson said schools’ remote education duty will be “enforced by Ofsted”, adding: “If parents feel their child’s school is not providing suitable remote education they should first raise their concerns with a teacher or headteacher, and failing that report the matter to Ofsted.”
But it seems to have led to an outpouring of support for schools.
In an email shared on Twitter, one parent told Ofsted that teachers “throughout the pandemic have responded with sensitivity, compassion, commitment to high educational outcomes and above all with humanity.
“They have provided a range of resources and support for home learning, and responded to parent feedback.”
I felt I had no choice but to report my children’s school to Ofsted. Feel free to do the same… pic.twitter.com/FcbbK9GUTS
— Rob McCann (@RobMcVIP) January 7, 2021
Another read: “I’m writing to let you know that, despite just 12 hours notice and no help with devices, [my son’s] primary school are delivering really good online learning.”
While one parent noted that all their daughter’s teachers were “without exception, available constantly for support and guidance as well as regular well-being calls”.
Lovely to get this kind of parental support AND a simultaneous slap in the face for Gav. pic.twitter.com/JPgWSEQuvO
— Sim Crowther 🇪🇺🇫🇷🇦🇹🇨🇭🇮🇹❄️🏂🏔️ (@CrowtherSim) January 7, 2021
The Department for Education revealed its online learning expectations for schools yesterday afternoon. These expectations include an increase in the amount of remote education provided and a requirement for schools to “overcome barriers to digital access for pupils”.
Earlier this week a poll of almost 6,000 school staff found 92 per cent said Williamson should quit after months of confusion and last-minute U-turns.
Ofsted did not want to provide a comment.