Ofsted plans for inspection in the summer term of 2021 and the return to full inspections from September 2021

Ofsted has announced plans to undertake some inspections during the summer term of 2021 and to return to full inspections from September 2021.

From 4 May 2021, Ofsted will begin some on-site Section 8 inspections. These will include:

  • monitoring inspections of schools judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’. While these visits to do not result in a grade, inspectors will be able to convert the inspection to a full S5 inspection (immediately or in the future) if there is evidence of significant improvement or there are real concerns;

  • ‘good’ schools that, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, have not been inspected within the statutory five-year window;

  • ‘outstanding’ schools that request an inspection (Ofsted will prioritise schools that have not been inspected for the longest period of time);

  • emergency inspections where significant concerns have been raised about safeguarding, leadership and management, or behaviour in the school.

Will Ofsted inspectors observe remote education lessons?

Inspectors may ask to look at recordings of lessons as part of the inspection. These could be recordings delivered asynchronously or synchronously. Ofsted says that inspectors should always inform a teacher if they are going to look at their lesson.

Ofsted says that it is for the school to determine which lessons will be looked at by inspectors. The NASUWT advises schools leaders to seek to agree with teachers in advance of the monitoring inspection which remote lessons will be looked at.

It is important to remember that Ofsted inspectors no longer conduct lesson observations. The purpose of inspectors looking at remote education sessions will be to form a judgement about the curriculum and the effectiveness of remote education provided by the school. Inspectors will not be evaluating individual teachers and the quality of their remote teaching.

Teachers and school leaders should contact the NASUWT for advice if their school seeks to use evidence from additional monitoring inspections for performance management purposes.

NASUWT advice on inspection

Ofsted states that it does not require schools to prepare for inspection. This means that schools should not produce data purely for inspection purposes. It also means that schools should not conduct mock inspections (‘mocksteds’). It is vital that schools comply with this advice as the focus should be on improving the quality of education.

Ofsted also makes it clear that quality education can only be achieved and sustained if schools identify and address the pressures on staff, including issues relating to workload and wellbeing. Schools must ensure that they comply with this advice. This means that schools should undertake workload impact assessments of policies and policy proposals and take action to address any workload burdens associated with those policies/proposals. This includes policies relating to planning, marking and assessment.

For further information, see NASUWT advice on assessment and the NASUWT’s briefing on the report of the Teacher Workload Advisory Group Making Data Work on our Assessment in England page, and the NASUWT’s advice on marking.

If schools are to address teacher wellbeing effectively, school leaders should focus on supporting and developing teachers. This means that high-stakes, punitive practices such as linking pay to test outcomes and ‘learning walks’ should be avoided.

For further information, see the NASUWT’s advice on performance management and on managing stress and teacher wellbeing.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, schools need to ensure that policies relating to remote education and blended learning do not increase the workload of teachers and school leaders. Teachers, school leaders and NASUWT Representatives should refer to NASUWT advice on remote education for further information about identifying and implementing appropriate practice.

Ofsted worked with the NASUWT to produce Clarification for schools setting out what Ofsted does and does not expect to see in inspection. The Clarification is incorporated into the School inspection handbook. School leaders should ensure that they have read the Clarification and understand what it means in practice for their school.

The NASUWT has issued advice for teachers, school leaders and NASUWT Representatives on Ofsted inspection. This includes an overview of the inspection process, Ofsted Inspection of Maintained Schools and Academies: Overview for Teachers, Leaders and Reps, the more detailed advice Ofsted Inspection of Maintained Schools and Academies: Advice for Teachers, Leaders and Reps, both available to download on the right/below, and our advice page on ‘deep dives’.

Ofsted’s findings about Covid-19 and the return to full-time education

Ofsted has published a series of reports outlining the key findings from interim visits conducted in the autumn term of 2020. These can be found on the Ofsted Covid-19 series web page.