Ofsted boss pauses all inspection activity

All routine Ofsted inspections will now be put on hold, sister paper Schools Week has revealed.

The watchdog has halted inspections following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier today to scale up coronavirus prevention measures.

An Ofsted spokesperson told Schools Week they are “putting a hold on all this week’s routine inspections of schools, social care, early years and further education providers.

“We are in discussions with the DfE about the longer-term picture.”

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “I’m grateful for the Secretary of State’s permission to suspend routine inspections.

“It’s clearly the right thing to do when teachers and social workers are under pressure as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. We all need to support them in their work.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said he recognises that teachers are “on the frontline of our national effort” and given the pressures on education leaders and their staff, “it is only right that Ofsted temporarily suspends its routine inspection timetable”.

He added that current medical and scientific guidance “indicates that at this stage, schools and other educational settings should remain open”.

However, he said that “if there comes a point when the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser tell us that closing schools [and colleges] would be in the best interests of children and teachers, we will take this step”.

The only exception to Ofsted’s inspection pause is if its team “has identified concerns about safeguarding arrangements at the provider”.

If this occurs, inspectors have been “asked to seek advice from Ofsted senior managers to inform the decision to progress, or not, with the inspection”.

A statement from Ofsted added: “For absolute clarity, all monitoring visits and inspections that have started (i.e. those that commenced yesterday), have been stopped and inspectors will not return to provider premises today.

“Providers that have been notified that inspection will commence today or later this week will not now happen. Providers are being contacted to inform them of these decisions.

“Ofsted will be discussing with the DfE as a priority what this new guidance means to our planned inspection activity over the coming weeks and months, and it will update providers as soon as it has clarity.”