Covid-19: Education Secretary announces suspension of Ofsted inspections

Ofsted inspections are being halted to “remove unnecessary burdens” on schools during the coronavirus pandemic, the Education Secretary has announced.

Gavin Williamson said he instructed Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman to postpone all routine checks on schools, further education, early years and children’s social care providers.

Tuesday’s decision follows pressure from a number of teachers’ unions, including the National Education Union, which said it was “unacceptable” for inspections to be going ahead.

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Williamson said: “I know that staff shortages are presenting teachers and headteachers with great challenges and I want to say how deeply grateful I am for their civic and community leadership.

“I also want to remove unnecessary burdens to help schools to cope.

“Given the pressures on our school leaders and their staff, it is only right that Ofsted temporarily suspends its routine inspection timetable.

“This will help schools to focus on their core functions at an already very difficult time.

“I’ve therefore instructed the Chief Inspector, who is in complete agreement, to suspend all routine inspections.”

On Monday, the Welsh education inspectorate announced that it was suspending inspections until further notice.

Estyn’s chief inspector, Meilyr Rowlands, said halting routine checks would allow staff to “focus fully” on the well-being of their pupils, staff and families.

School inspections have been halted in Scotland until the Easter break to allow teachers to focus on their staff and students, according to a spokesman for Education Scotland.