Author: Ben Greenwood
Posted: 04 Sep 2020
Estimated time to read: 2 mins
As students return to school after over 160 days away, the classrooms they return to are going to look quite different to the ones they distantly remember. Schools have been forced to make drastic logistical changes in order to bring students back safely and, because these new methods are yet to be tested, there will likely be some teething issues to begin with.
Thankfully, Ofsted won’t be returning to schools until October, giving schools a little time to iron out any creases and make sure students are learning at a high standard in a safe environment. But when inspectors hit the corridors again next month, what will these visits consist of?
What you need to know about Ofsted’s visits
They’re not official inspections
These Ofsted visits won’t be counted as official inspections. Instead they are intended to make sure that the school is back up and running as smoothly as possible and that staff and students are aware of what they must do to work and study safely.
But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Ofsted have said that if an inspector has significant concerns about safeguarding or school leadership then they could turn the unofficial visit into an official inspection.
You won’t be graded
As you have probably guessed, as these won’t be official inspections, your school will not receive a judgement grade from Ofsted. The watchdog says that the intention of their visits is to support schools, not to assess them. This could mean helping to implement more efficient systems or recommending improvement to social distancing methods.
However, if inspectors have sufficient concerns, they may order a No Formal Designation (NFD) inspection: an inspection that is designated beforehand. The results of this inspection could affect your current Ofsted grade.
What will Ofsted inspectors be looking for?
During these visits, inspectors will be looking at a number of different areas in the school, from students’ routines, to safeguarding and general health and safety. They may speak to students and staff on their visits but aren’t being told to enter classrooms or assess any teaching.
Here are the things they’ll be looking out for:
- How students are settling back into school life and their familiarity with new routines
- Whether students are achieving consistent attendance and good punctuality
- How any identified issues with SEND students are being addressed
- Any stop points or specific obstacles the school has overcome or is currently facing
- How school leaders are implementing the curriculum upon the return to school
- Contingency planning, including the use of remote learning and catch-up funding
- The school’s safeguarding response to COVID-19, as well as other safeguarding implementations
So, whilst it won’t be the usual Ofsted inspection, schools will need to ensure that they have adequate safeguarding measures in place and that the return to some form of classroom and wider school routine is evident.
Failing this, schools could risk an NFD inspection. Something that, paired with the stress already being put on teachers and students during the pandemic, could be extremely taxing.