Ofsted has clarified schools won’t be marked down for letting their year 11 cohort leave before the end of the academic year, despite its chief inspector raising concerns over the practice.
Amanda Spielman told The Guardian last week that it was “concerning” to see secondary schools allowing pupils to end the summer term early due to learning lost during the pandemic.
She said the watchdog would “want to know” how schools used the remainder of the term to support these pupils.
Decision won’t have ‘direct impact’ on Ofsted grade
However, Ofsted has clarified that such a decision “wouldn’t have a direct impact” on a school’s grade when full inspections resume next term. Instead, it would be a source of evidence for inspectors looking at a school’s catch-up provision more generally.
Inspectors will want to know what steps schools have taken to make sure all years are able to catch up on lost learning and will want to know what decisions were made about their leaving and why, Ofsted added.
A school could still receive an ‘outstanding’ judgment if they let their Year 11 cohort leave early, but Ofsted would “have to see that the school had taken positive action on catching up on lost learning”.
The Department for Education (DfE) issued guidance in March giving schools the freedom to choose whether to implement a period of study leave but warned “it may not be applicable”, suggesting schools make “appropriate judgments”.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added it would have been “entirely inappropriate to feed this issue into the inspection process”.
He added: “It’s not particularly helpful of the chief inspector to have ticked off schools about what Year 11 pupils should be doing after their assessments have finished.
“She must know the enormous pressure on schools and colleges in assessing students and providing grades following the cancellation of public exams.”
A Teacher Tapp poll from mid-May suggests most schools would have already let their Year 11s leave prior to Spielman’s comments. Three-quarters of teachers in the most affluent quartile stated they would be leaving by the end of May, while 63 per cent of the most deprived said the same.