A Twitter ban at Sir Michael Wilshaw’s Ofsted conference was defended by organisers as a “courtesy to the press”.

The clampdown on live information escaping Prospero House had already seen journalists  barred from the event.

The behind-closed-doors ruling was justified by Association of Colleges (AoC) communications director Ben Verinder as allowing contributors an “open and frank” dialogue.

“Traditional and social media coverage of the relationship between colleges and Ofsted is essential to a healthy debate,” he said.

“However, there are occasions when members need and deserve to be able to talk directly to Ofsted without media presence, in order to have an open and frank dialogue.

“The audience was asked not to tweet during the proceedings as a courtesy to media that had asked to attend.

“It would not be fair or reasonable to expect a media outlet not to attend, while the content of the discussions was entering the public domain at the same moment.”

Joy Mercer, AoC policy director, added that press were not normally allowed at their events, which can cost up to £468 a-head.

“We don’t normally have any media at these conferences,” she said. “We want people to be able to be unattributable. It gives people that freedom to have that dialogue.

“Any review of this policy would have to be carried out by Ben Verinder and our chief executive Martin Doel. But at the moment we feel it [press ban] is exactly what our members want.”