Ofsted rejects RAAC inspection exemption call

But crumbly concrete disruption will be 'sufficient grounds to defer the inspection'

But crumbly concrete disruption will be 'sufficient grounds to defer the inspection'

Ofsted has rejected calls to automatically exempt education providers with RAAC from inspection, but urged leaders to use its deferral policy if they get the call.

In the autumn term, the watchdog removed all schools and colleges affected by the crumbly concrete from its inspection schedule.

But since January, these education providers have been eligible for inspection.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, wrote yesterday to education secretary Gillian Keegan to request an extension of the approach.

He asked “that you instruct Ofsted to continue to avoid scheduling for inspection any school on the published RAAC list until the school is fully operational, unless the headteacher has notified Ofsted that they are happy to undergo an inspection”.

In a statement issued today, Ofsted said RAAC schools would be eligible for inspection this term, “however this will be sufficient grounds to defer the inspection, should the school wish to”.

A spokesperson from Ofsted confirmed to FE Week that this approach also applies to FE colleges.

“We know that the situation with RAAC is still causing challenges for school staff, pupils and their parents and guardians,” the watchdog’s statement added.

“For schools that do not have confirmed RAAC but may still be impacted by RAAC, for example where a school is hosting pupils from schools that have RAAC, we will carefully consider any requests for a deferral of an inspection.”

It comes after Barton took aim in his letter at the pace of government action to address the RAAC crisis in education.

He said the danger of structural failure in buildings where RAAC was used in construction “has been known since at least 2018”.

‘Extremely difficult position’

“The unacceptable length of time it has taken the government to act on a risk of this seriousness has led directly to the extremely difficult position in which many leaders now find themselves.”

He also echoed calls for mitigations to exams for students in affected settings.

Where schools and colleges have had to close specialist provision like science labs, “students in these subjects should automatically be given special consideration for coursework and non-exam assessment (NEA) in any subjects affected”.

This “should be at a cohort level, without the need for centres to apply individually for each candidate, as is currently the case”.

He added that special consideration “should include the maximum extended time to complete the NEA, and the maximum percentage of additional marks available under current JCQ guidance”.

He also called on chancellor Jeremy Hunt to introduce a “new recovery funding stream for all 231 RAAC-impacted schools [and colleges] in the spring budget”, and said government must ensure outstanding RAAC spending by education providers is reimbursed “as soon as possible”.

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