Full graded Ofsted inspections will not return until the new academic year, with the watchdog instead looking at bringing in a “sensible and proportionate next step” as part of its phased return in the summer term.

Department for Education guidance states routine, graded Ofsted inspections “will resume in the summer term”, with the inspectorate “discussing the form and timing of inspections in the summer term”.

However chief inspector Amanda Spielman today confirmed that full inspections will not be returning this academic year.

Addressing the Association of School and College Leaders virtual conference, she added: “But I can tell you that what we’re discussing is a sensible and proportionate next step before returning to our normal inspection programme in the autumn.”

Ofsted has been conducting a new form of remote monitoring inspections of schools and colleges graded “inadequate” or “requires improvement” since January 25, after U-turning on plans to conduct inspections in-person.

But these visits for FE providers have now stopped so that the watchdog can focus on face-to-face new provider monitoring inspections, which recommenced on Monday.

As more normal service resumes within education, Spielman said she wants Ofsted to “play its part in helping schools and colleges get back on track through inspections”.

But she warned them against conducting ‘mocksteds’ or using inspection consultants in a bid to prepare.

“I want us to help not hinder and I certainly don’t want hard-pressed teachers spending time on fruitless exercises to prepare for Ofsted… just do the best for your pupils and students, in other words what you always do”, she added.

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  1. richard moore

    An eminently sensible move by Ofsted to suspend full inspections until September. Summer term inspections of colleges are difficult enough as it is in normal times as anyone who has ever led one for Ofsted will tell you, never mind with the spectre of Covid still hanging over us all. It would have put inspectors in a very invidious position in a lot of instances.

  2. Phil Hatton

    This applies to all learning and skills providers and not just colleges. I still feel that it will be a ‘watch this space’ if after 21 June things do return to normal the Chief Inspector may be tempted to start doing some voluntary inspections in order to train the new staff who have been recruited who have not been able to conduct any inspections. Ofsted were asking for volunteers only a few weeks ago if inspection had returned around May. It is important to stick to what has been said at this conference with full inspections not returning this academic year so that colleges, employers, ITPs and adult education providers can focus fully on opening up for business again. Common sense all round.