Ofsted

Ofsted has pulled in extra staff to sort through an influx of more than 10,000 emails following a campaign to report schools to the watchdog for the good work they are doing.

However, the deluge of emails – which has doubled since Friday – could mean a “genuine safeguarding risk takes longer to be resolved”, an Ofsted director said.

Schools Week revealed last week that the inspectorate had received over 5,000 emails from parents between Wednesday and Friday.

It followed a campaign on social media to turn the table on education secretary Gavin Williamson, who had earlier told parents to complain to Ofsted if their child’s school was not providing suitable remote education.

The emails are sent to Ofsted’s general enquiries inbox and managed by the watchdog’s call centre team. The watchdog would not say how many are genuine complaints, but it’s thought the majority are positive.

The campaign to praise schools led to Ofsted trending on Twitter on Friday morning with around 5,000 people tweeting about the watchdog.

However, Chris Jones, the watchdog’s director of strategy, warned on Twitter that the surge in emails “just increases the chance of a genuine safeguarding risk taking longer to be resolved”.

In a bid to ensure genuine safeguarding concerns do not go unanswered, Ofsted has deployed extra staff to work through the thousands of emails and ensure urgent matters are promptly dealt with.

Williamson told the House of Commons on Wednesday that 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.”

Sources told Schools Week that the inspectorate weren’t fully aware of its new role prior to this announcement and senior officials had been left “furious” when they found out.

Elsewhere Ofsted confirmed today that its inspectors would take Covid-19 tests before carrying out on-site monitoring visits from next month.