Ofsted will pause its remote monitoring inspections for the week beginning March 8 to allow schools to focus on wider reopening.
The watchdog has been carrying out remote monitoring visits since January in place of routine in-person inspections, which have been suspended during the pandemic.
But the inspectorate has updated its guidance this afternoon to state it will pause those inspections for the week schools are due to reopen.
The updated guidance adds that, for the rest of the term, Ofsted will “continue to carry out our monitoring inspections remotely by default”.
However, the watchdog will carry out on-site inspections “if we have any immediate concerns – for example, about safeguarding or the leadership of a school”.
The move comes after secondary schools were told they would have to test returning pupils three times before switching to a system of home testing. This has prompted concerns about the logistics of testing large numbers of pupils in a short space of time at the same time as resuming in-person lessons.
However, the DfE clarified earlier today that secondary schools and colleges will be allowed to start testing pupils on-site before this date “if they would like to do so”.
According to Ofsted, the purpose of the monitoring inspections is to reassure parents and support school improvement.
It is intended that full inspections will resume in the summer term, and the Department for Education stated this week it is “continuing to keep the inspection arrangements under review” during its reopening guidance.
The move to pause monitoring inspections for one week follows Ofsted’s decision earlier this month to reduce the length of its monitoring inspections from two days to one.
The inspectorate previously stated the change had come about as it is “now confident that the visits can be done effectively in a single day, rather than two – so we wanted to make that adjustment, recognising where schools are and the challenges they face”.