We are all no doubt conscious of the difficulties posed by industrial strike action in the education sector. One issue which has arisen from recent discussions relating to strike action is how Ofsted inspections will be conducted.
Ofsted has released a briefing note confirming that it will seek to maintain inspection activity where possible throughout any industrial action in February and March. Therefore, inspection notifications and on-site inspections will be managed to avoid any strike days.
In addition, academies can make use of Ofsted’s deferral policy where necessary.
Any deferral request must be made to Ofsted as early as possible, and preferably by email, to the inspection support administrator, or the Ofsted inspector who has notified you of the inspection or visit.
As set out in Ofsted’s deferral policy, there are certain situations when an inspection or visit may be deferred, including where:
- the headteacher, nominated individual, or a member of the senior management team is subject to a police investigation or serious concern from another agency which would be compromised by an inspection or visit;
- there has been a recent major incident, such as a fatality involving a pupil, service user, trainee, training participant or a member of staff, there has been a serious injury or serious/infectious illness, or a serious incident when the presence of an inspector would adversely impact on the safety and well-being of children, young people, or adults
- the school is due to merge, close or move and no useful purpose will be served by inspection;
- there are concerns such as a security or other major incident in the local area;
- the school is closed for at least half of the time scheduled for the inspection or visit, such as during a staff training day or where there are adverse weather conditions;
- for at least half of the inspection or visit, three quarters of the users will not be at school, such as where there is a school trip, holiday, or a religious festival;
- the school has very recently converted to become an academy;
- the Ofsted regional director otherwise considers there are grounds for a deferral.
Whilst the deferral grounds do not specifically cover strike action, the academy may, of course, be closed or partly closed with less staff and children on site. Each deferral request will be considered on its own merits.
If you have any concerns in respect of the management of inspections during strike action, or otherwise in respect of deferring an inspection or indeed challenging an inspection, we would be pleased to provide you with assistance.