Ofsted will pause its remote monitoring inspections for the week beginning March 8 to allow schools and colleges to focus on wider reopening.
The watchdog has been carrying out remote monitoring visits of those graded ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ since January in place of routine in-person inspections, which have been suspended during the pandemic.
The visits have a particular focus on how well learners are being educated remotely. While a report is produced and published, these inspections are not graded.
But the inspectorate has updated its guidance to state it will pause those inspections for the week schools and colleges are due to reopen.
The updated guidance adds that, for the rest of the term, Ofsted will “continue to carry out our monitoring inspections remotely by default”.
However, the watchdog will carry out on-site inspections “if we have any immediate concerns – for example, about safeguarding or the leadership of a school or college”.
The move comes after colleges were told they would have to test returning students three times before switching to a system of home testing. This has prompted concerns about the logistics of testing large numbers of pupils in a short space of time at the same time as resuming in-person lessons.
However, the DfE clarified yesterday that secondary schools and colleges will be allowed to start testing pupils on-site before this date “if they would like to do so”.
According to Ofsted, the purpose of the monitoring inspections is to reassure parents and support school improvement.
It is intended that full inspections will resume in the summer term, and the Department for Education stated this week it is “continuing to keep the inspection arrangements under review” during its reopening guidance.