Schools will not be inspected on days when teachers are due to go on strike, Ofsted has confirmed.
Members of the National Education Union in England state schools are due to walk out on six days in February and March in a dispute over pay and school funding.
But Ofsted said it will schedule both inspections and notifications of inspections to avoid strike days in February.
The policy will be reviewed ahead of further planned walkouts in March.
Previously, guidance stated that strikes would be treated similarly to other possible disruption. Inspectors would “take a view as to whether there is sufficient activity taking place to enable it to conduct an inspection, and “likely” defer if there wasn’t.
But in a statement issued today, the watchdog confirmed it will not inspect on strike days.
Ofsted acknowledged the industrial action “will have an impact on schools and the full impact might not be known until the day of the strike”.
“We want to maintain school inspection activity as far as possible in February and March, while responding sensitively to local circumstances. So we will schedule school inspection notifications and on-site inspections to avoid strike days.”
For example, to avoid the strike action due to take place on February 1, Ofsted will notify schools of their inspection on January 31, and then inspect on February 2 and 3.
“We also have our usual deferral policy in place. Any deferral requests made as a result of strike action will be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
On the days where strikes are limited to certain regions, inspections will continue as normal elsewhere.
Ofsted added that it would “monitor the situation during this first wave of action in February and review if necessary for future dates”.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, welcomed the “sensible decision not to inspect schools on strike days”, but said there should be “no inspections at all during strike weeks”.
“School and college leaders must be allowed the time and space to manage the implications of industrial action without the additional pressure of an inspection that could be done at another time and under more typical circumstances. We will be making this case to Ofsted.”