Ofsted will check how schools are spending £650m catch-up cash, says Williamson

Ofsted inspectors will be asked to check how schools are helping pupils catch up on missed teaching, the education secretary has said.

The government announced last Friday that schools will split £650 million in additional funding to aid pupils who have fallen behind as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding is part of a £1 billion package, which also includes £350 million for a national tutoring programme.

Gavin Williamson said this afternoon that he would be asking the watchdog to look at “how this has been implemented, and how children have been supported in their catch-up plans”.

Routine inspections of schools have been suspended since March, and chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said they are unlikely to resume before the end of the summer term.

Speaking in the Commons today, Williamson said: “It’s really important that we understand the vital role that Ofsted plays in making sure that we have strong accountability in schools,.

“And when we’re looking at making this significant investment of £1 billion in terms of supporting youngsters to catch up and supporting schools, one of the areas and aspects I’ll be asking Ofsted to look at is how this has been implemented, and how children have been supported in their catch-up plans.”

Spielman told the parliamentary education committee in April that schools would not be judged “per se” on their coronavirus response, with inspections set to focus on the quality of education once they resume.

The chief inspector also reminded MPs that there are no specific expectations from government of what schools should be doing in terms of education during COVID-19

“There is no standard of home or online learning by which we would be able to judge schools.”

Ofsted declined to comment.