ASCL comment on Ofsted autumn visits

02/09/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on Ofsted’s plans to visit schools and colleges in the autumn term.
 
Commenting on Ofsted’s plans to visit schools and colleges in the autumn term, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We don’t support Ofsted’s approach to visiting schools in the autumn term. We can see the value in Ofsted visiting a sample of schools to gain a general picture of the response to the educational challenges caused by the Covid pandemic. 

However, Ofsted appears to be fixated on the idea of publishing letters about each of the schools it visits. Even though these letters will not give a graded judgement, this will make visits seem like inspection by another name. It is frustrating that Ofsted in one breath agrees with the need to suspend inspections while schools reintegrate children and manage safety measures, and then in the next breath decides on an approach which contradicts that objective

We doubt that Ofsted visits in the autumn term are a priority for parents who will be more concerned about their school being able to concentrate on the practicalities of safety measures and catch-up support. These practicalities represent a huge logistical challenge and the added pressure of an Ofsted visit in the way that is planned isn’t helpful in this context.

“We have repeatedly warned Ofsted about the perception it will create by publishing letters, and urged it to give schools at least one term’s grace to cope with an unprecedented set of challenges, but it seems that it simply cannot help itself


We are not convinced either about Ofsted’s determination to resume routine inspections in January 2021. This plan may quickly unravel in the event of local lockdowns over the next few weeks and months. 

We note that this date will be kept under review and we urge the inspectorate to be prepared to change its plans.”