AoC calls on Ofsted to delay inspections until 2021

The Association of Colleges has called on Ofsted to suspend all inspections until at least January 2021 owing to the disruptions caused by coronavirus.

The membership organisation says scheduled inspections should only go ahead where specific concerns have been raised about safeguarding or an inspection is requested by a provider.

Last month Ofsted announced it had temporarily suspended all inspection activity, including publishing reports, until further notice.

The AoC said today that education providers are likely to be closed to the majority of students until September, and will then be focussed on supporting students to “catch up” from an extended period at home and without face to face teaching.

The capacity of colleges and other training providers will be “stretched, and we expect that to affect the whole academic year 2020-21”.

Inspecting during the autumn term would “therefore be unfair”, according to AoC chief executive David Hughes.

He said: “Delaying inspections until early next year is the right thing to do in the current circumstances. Our leaders and staff are working tirelessly to support their students and communities.

“Colleges will be doing everything they can in the autumn term, presuming they can open, to support students to ‘catch up’ and get back into the rhythm and habit of learning.”

He added: “Work will need to be undertaken in collaboration with the sector to consult on the changes required to the methodology once inspections resume.

“When inspections resume the priority needs to be supporting the changes colleges will have made and learning from this unprecedented period of closures and online learning.

“No college should be at a disadvantage due to the fallout of the implications of coronavirus. We will continue to work with Ofsted to ensure that routine inspections work in the best interest of students and staff.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “This is a challenging and uncertain time and all routine inspections are suspended until further notice.

“Restarting routine inspections is a decision government and Ofsted will take in due course.”