Support and guidance for schools during COVID-19 (Ofsted)


To support school leaders towards understanding the way Ofsted are working during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In the summer term, inspection activity will mainly be on site. In the notification call before an inspection, providers and inspectors will agree safety measures to ensure the inspection is COVID-19 secure. Inspectors will also take a lateral flow test before arriving at the setting.

Any ‘full’ education inspection framework (EIF) inspections carried out in the summer term will maintain the four key judgements, but with additional flexibility in recognition of current contexts. Ofsted have piloted changes to inspection methods to take account of the challenges raised by COVID-19 and published an updated set of EIF handbooks and guidance. Ofsted have also provided a summary of changes to inspection handbooks on 28 June 2021.

Ofsted have confirmed that the full programme of graded school inspections will resume in autumn 2021.

On 4 May Ofsted began to restart some on-site inspections under the EIF. These include section 8 monitoring inspections of schools graded ‘inadequate’, and those graded ‘requires improvement’ at their last two consecutive full inspections.

In line with Ofsted’s usual policy, where inspectors find evidence that an inadequate school has improved and is no longer inadequate, Ofsted will be able to convert this to a section 5 (‘full’) inspection, which will be graded.

Similarly, where inspectors believe a school judged ‘requires improvement’ shows improvement, Ofsted may deem the section 8 monitoring visit to be a section 5 inspection. They will do the same if there are serious concerns (for example, about safeguarding).

Ofsted will also inspect ‘good’ schools that, due to the pandemic, have not had an inspection within the statutory 5-year window. These will be section 8 inspections and follow their usual approach to inspecting good schools, as outlined in the section 8 school inspection handbook.

‘Outstanding’ schools will also be able to request an inspection. When considering requests, Ofsted will prioritise those schools that have gone the longest without an inspection. School leaders can request an inspection by writing to the relevant Ofsted regional director.

Ofsted will continue to prioritise inspections of all schools where significant concerns are raised, when necessary.

Unless significant concerns are raised, Ofsted will not inspect secondary schools in the first half of the summer term. This will allow leaders and staff to focus on assigning and submitting teacher-assessed grades. Secondary schools will be included in inspection schedules from 21 June.

Under these plans, most schools will not receive an inspection until the programme of routine inspections restarts in September.

For more information, please see the Ofsted COVID-19 rolling update..

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Last Updated: 9 July 2021