8th November 2021
Thank you for your letter of 21 October 2021, copied to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, regarding the well-being of school leaders and our return to routine inspection in September. I have been asked to respond in my capacity as National Director for Education.
We fully recognise that schools and colleges are operating in extraordinary times and have been for some time. This will, of course, have affected school leaders, teacher sand staff in many different ways. Inspectors will always take time to understand and take account of all the different challenges schools are dealing with and how they are being affected by the pandemic.
We are aware of the increased pressure on teachers and school leaders and have taken account of that in preparing to return to our full inspection programme. We piloted the return to full inspections and have adjusted the way in which we inspect to reflect the current circumstances, while remaining true to the purpose and principles of the education inspection framework (EIF). Over the past year, the majority of schools have reported that Ofsted’s work helped support them in difficult times and was welcome. We are also receiving positive feedback about the impact of our work this term.
Our inspectors are well trained to recognise challenges within a school; all inspections start with a detailed conversation with the headteacher to fully understand the challenges their school is facing, and how leaders have responded to ensure that the children and young people in their care receive the best education possible.
We also appreciate that acute current issues sometimes mean that we need to defer an inspection. We have amended our published deferral policy regularly throughout the pandemic to ensure that inspectors are able to respond sensitively when schools are facing particularly acute challenges. We believe that this process is working well, with most deferrals agreed and any proposal to reject a deferral carefully checked and moderated before being finalised.
Despite the ongoing challenges, we believe that a return to routine EIF inspection is the best way for Ofsted to support the sector, and children and young people. We are confident that we can do this in a fair, manageable, and safe way for schools and colleges.
Christopher Russell HMI
National Director, Education
You can read our letter here.