ofsted

Full graded inspections of new providers, and monitoring visits to those rated grades three or four will resume in the summer term, Ofsted has announced.

The watchdog revealed earlier this month that full graded inspections to all education settings would not return until September, but they would bring in a “next step” as part of a phased approach.

Today, it was revealed for FE and skills providers specifically, the inspectorate would resume face-to-face monitoring visits for those rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ from May 4.

Furthermore, full inspections of providers which have had a new provider monitoring visits will pick up again in the summer term.

It has already been announced new provider monitoring visits would resume from March 15.

All of this activity is being planned to take place face-to-face.

Ofsted has said it will continue to “conduct emergency monitoring visits or full inspections of providers where serious concerns are identified”.

A spokesperson said they are “committed to returning to carrying out face-to-face inspections of FE providers this summer.

“Our inspections have an important role to play: they look at the progress made in establishing high quality new provision, the quality of education and training provided to learners, and provide information to learners, employers, parents, and the government.

“Our feedback and reporting helps providers improve by identifying strengths and weaknesses in provision.”

The watchdog also announced today it will be making “lighter touch” on-site visits to schools in the summer term, to see how students are being educated and kept safe.

These inspections, which came about after “extensive” discussions with government and sector leaders, will not result in a grade.

A press release issued by the watchdog said schools could receive a full graded inspections if, during one of these light-touch visits, their current grade is no longer considered a fair reflection of its work. The full inspection could take immediately or later in the term.

FE Week has confirmed with Ofsted this will not apply for colleges and FE providers.

Inspection methods are also set for limited changes, to take account of the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

An updated set of inspection handbooks with the full set of changes will be published after the Easter break, Ofsted has said. And it is working “closely” with education recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins on how its work “can support the longer-term education recovery”.

Ofsted had halted all inspection activity at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but introduced interim visits to providers of all grades in the autumn term, and progress monitoring visits to poorly-graded providers this term – though these were cancelled earlier this month.