Ofsted deluged with 5,000 emails as parents turn tables on Williamson by reporting ‘superb’ schools

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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.”

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”.

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.



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  1. I saw fit to send this to Ofsted…


    I have serious concerns!!!
    ‘Complaints’ top the bill from the mouth of Gavin Williamson. ‘Complaints‘ top the bill on your website. ‘Complaints’ seem to roll around in all of the rhetoric of what Ofsted does and do.

    What do Ofsted do? ‘Raise standards? Improve life’s?’
    Is that the aim? I wonder: what person, body or system ever improved thanks to all the complaints and criticism that it received?

    Just a few thoughts from a secondary teacher with two children in younger phases of stretched adulation system. Their teachers, schools and other who work in their settings are grafting daily for the provision, betterment and enriching education of our next generation. You might call this ‘Improving Lives’. I would.
    What are you all doing? …complaining and asking other to complain.
    That’s the end of my complaint.
    I could go on…


  2. Christine deGraft-Hanson

    What Gavin Williamson, the most out of touch SoS in living memory doesn’t know, is that in schools such as mine, during the first lockdown, we had a pregnant teacher choosing to work with her class, remotely, till the day before having a C-section. We are teachers who have dedicated ourselves to our students. We do not need to be directed or chastised before delivering high quality learning, both in-prrson and remotely. It is our privilege to contribute to the education of our students and we take the greatest pride in this. .

    As a Headteacher, I am proud of each of those parents/carers who wrote to Ofsted. Gavin needs to listen more, use his eyes more and speak less. He’d learn more and alienate fewer of the school staff he is meant to represent and support.

  3. Donna Hussain

    I have one child attending Exeter College and one at Isca Academy in Exeter, also I have been attending Exeter College doing a course myself. I have been thoroughly impressed by the hard work, dedication, and the way they have adapted in order to make things as flexible as possible, constant updates and checking to make sure everything is ok. This has been a very stressful situation and felt almost impossible at times but the teachers/tutors have stepped up every time and I can’t thank them enough. On top of adapting to the learning themselves and supporting the children they didn’t falter on the usual charity donations they run every year over Christmas. Well done, you’re all amazing!

  4. Maria Lima-Smith

    Both my teenage boys attend Chipping Campden High School in Gloucestershire (Year.8 and Year.11). Given the last minute changes made by the government (at 8pm on Sunday evening!), the school’s head, and their staff, deserve the utmost respect, gratitude and praise for providing the level of support that they are doing, remotely or/and within the school, at such short notice. Head Teachers. Teachers, Teaching Assistants , Support Staff, Lunchtime Supervisors and Cleaner’s, (have and are doing), everything within their power to continue providing this vital service for our children, whilst putting themselves in a vulnerable position. Well done and a huge thank you to them all, and, to the parent’s trying to work, and homeschool their children, at the same time, too. It’s not an easy task by any means, but for our future generation to succeed in life, both school staff, and parents, need to work together and support each other in what is unprecedented times. Gavin Williamson shouldn’t just be promoting for people to complain to Ofsted about their school bad service, but to the parents, credit where it’s due. If a school has been providing a good service, then I’m sure Ofsted need to hear that, too!

  5. Saima Hussain

    My children are happy with remote education he is every thing understand I help my children if our children not safe goes to school we are okay at home and continue remote education thanks to you

  6. Donna Neale

    Gavin Williamson should quit. He does not care about education at all or what children need. He makes bad decisions and he is always about saving his own skin. He should quit as all he does is hang schools out to dry.

  7. Norman Elkington

    Ashover school, that my two granddaughters attend, has been the epitome of common sense and endeavoured to provide a safe learning environment for all involved. Thank you.

  8. James Avison

    Thoroughly digusted with the government and Williamson, the schools have bent over backwards, teachers and staff working long hours, weekends to communicate and manage through the ongoing epidemic.
    Over Christmas and New Year and even this weekend my childrens school staff have spent time communicating updates about what is and is going to happen. The staff have been brilliant, thinking first and foremost about the children.
    Williamson and his government cronies are quick to blame everyone else and deflect their utter incompetence, if they worked for industry they would have sacked months ago for their disgustingly incompetence in all aspects of the economy and pandemic.
    Parents should email Williamson directly with their disgust of his actions and praise of the schools their children attend.

  9. Helen Benjamins

    Day in the life of an on line teacher.
    8am wanted to be ready, organised and online for the day only to find that, overnight, a fault outside of the home has stopped service but habe been advised that it will be resumed shortly.
    8.50am finally on line but half of my students dont appear to be joining me.
    10am student registration taken and all are online. Work commences.
    One student disappears in response to ‘an emergency, and I can hear a smoke alarm going off in the background.
    12.30 lunchtime. Considering emergency (caused apparently, by forgotten toast), interruptions from requests for toilet requirements, knocks on doors and one student being constantly interrupted by her younger sibling whom she is looking after as one parent is a key worker and the other parent is sole carer to an elderly relative and both are out. We have managed to get some headway into a task that I’d hoped would have been completed before lunch. That’s how long it would have taken in an ordinary class environment.
    1.30pm students return but one then goes off to answer his doorbell and doesnt return
    2pm finally class seem to be settled and all are working quietly.
    2.45pm student having total meltdown on line after climbing on her radiator in order to get something from shelf above and dislodging now expecting me to step in and resolve the issue before her parents return.
    3.30pm End of online school for today although, at best, I reckon the class has achieved only about an hour’s work.
    6.30pm My day finally comes to an end after preparing school work for following day and marking the work from earlier. Note to self, two students will require some extra tuition as they seem to be struggling with the problems set in the days work. Hmm that wont be easy!
    So, for those of you who think teachers are having it easy at present or perhaps feel that the level of online learning isnt as high as you expect, think again.
    Considering that the impact of the virus has caught many of us teachers unaware and therefore ill prepared, along with a government that cant give direction, the possible onset of exams to prepare for and very high levels of student anxiety to deal with, we are doing okay.
    What we need though is a government who appreciates how difficult the situation is and is supportive rather than expectant. All students to be given the equipment to participate in online education. Yes I think we can safely say that most homes have the equipment to access home learning however, the use they have of said equipment could well be considered as low in the pecking order of households where breadwinners take priority. Also the powers that be need to stop bickering and whingeing about what they think everyone else should be doing and get on with doing their job.
    9.40pm after having cooked tea, eaten loaded the washing machine, whipped the iron over a few items, washed up I sm shattered. It’s about all I can do to climb the stairs to bed.
    Tomorrow hopefully, will be a better day.