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School and further education inspections to begin from 22 January

Inspections of schools and further education providers in England will begin from 22 January, following mental health awareness training for all lead inspectors.

  • Sir Martyn Oliver announces school and further education (FE) inspections will begin from 22 January, after inspector mental health awareness training.

  • Ofsted to respond in full to the coroner’s inquest on 19 January.

  • Geoff Barton (Association of School and College Leaders), Paul Whiteman (National Association of Head Teachers) and Leora Cruddas (Confederation of School Trusts) to provide constructive challenge to Ofsted as it responds to the inquest.

Ofsted’s new Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, has announced the start date after a series of constructive meetings in his first week in the job – with headteacher unions and representatives, as well as with Professor Julia Waters, the sister of Ruth Perry.

Sir Martyn has also announced that Ofsted will respond in full to the coroner’s recommendations on 19 January, setting out clearly how Ofsted will conduct inspections with professionalism, courtesy, respect and empathy.

Recently, Sir Martyn and Dame Christine Ryan (Chair of Ofsted) met with Geoff Barton (General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders) and Paul Whiteman (General Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers) to discuss his intention to work constructively with the leadership unions during his tenure as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI).

This afternoon, Sir Martyn and Dame Christine met with Geoff Barton, Paul Whiteman and Leora Cruddas (CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts). This constructive meeting was significantly extended, taking the whole day. In conclusion, Sir Martyn invited Geoff, Paul and Leora to work with Ofsted over the coming weeks, providing constructive challenge as Ofsted responds to the coroner’s recommendations. This engagement will continue following the publication of the response to the coroner.

Ofsted’s response to the coroner will detail work done prior to the inquest, work done immediately following the coroner’s findings and where Ofsted will focus in the longer-term. In particular, the group will reconvene for intensive work on ensuring headteachers feel confident, as inspections resume, to raise any serious concerns.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), recently said:

These are early days, but based on today’s face-to-face meetings, I am encouraged that the Chief Inspector has made time within his first few days in office to hold a meeting with me, Paul Whiteman (NAHT) and Leora Cruddas (CST). I am also pleased that the chair of Ofsted, Dame Christine Ryan, was also present.The meeting gave us an opportunity to reflect on the concerns raised in the coroner’s report following the inquest into the death of Ruth Perry, discuss how relations between Ofsted and the profession can be reset, give reassurance to leaders that the resumption of inspection will not simply be ‘business as usual’, and start to consider the need for the longer-term reforms.We look forward to continuing to work together constructively in pursuit of an inspection system that is fairer, less punitive and has the trust of school and college leaders.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), recently said:

I am pleased that this meeting was more than a courtesy. I felt that for the first time in far too long Ofsted took seriously the concerns of NAHT members.It’s early days but both HMCI, Sir Martyn Oliver, and Ofsted Chair, Dame Christine Ryan, demonstrated a deep understanding of our members’ concerns and a determination to work with us to identify solutions.These are early days and NAHT members will judge progress on actions and not words. To that end we have started today to agree immediate actions to bring confidence and space to discuss longer term reform.

Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts, recently said:

We are pleased that Ofsted has engaged constructively with us, so early in Sir Martyn’s tenure.The conversations today have been very positive and signal a change in practice, tone and culture.

The start of inspections in schools and FE providers this year had been delayed to allow for mental health awareness training to begin for over 3,000 full and part-time inspectors. The training has 2 parts. All inspectors working in schools, further education, social care and early years are set to attend initial training on 8 January, led by Sir Martyn, but including an introductory session from social enterprise Mental Health First Aid England. This session will be recorded and shared publicly. Mental Health First Aid England will then lead detailed small group sessions with groups of inspectors to help them understand and recognise any mental health issues they may encounter on inspection.

Sir Martyn will ensure that every school and college inspection is led by an inspector that has completed both sessions. By 22 January, all lead inspectors working in schools and further education will have completed both sessions. Every inspector working for Ofsted will have completed the training by the end of March.

Sir Martyn has also committed to completing Ofsted’s detailed response to the prevention of future deaths report issued by HM Coroner following the inquest into Ruth Perry’s death, which found an Ofsted inspection contributed to her suicide. The document will be completed and sent to the coroner on 19 January – before inspections begin.

Ofsted will seek the permission of the coroner to publish this document as soon as it is completed, ensuring the whole profession can be reassured of the fullness of Ofsted’s response and Sir Martyn’s personal commitment to learn from the tragedy of Ruth Perry’s death.

Sir Martyn Oliver, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of education, children’s services and skills, recently said:

Inspection plays a vital role in making sure that children and learners are getting the education and care they need and deserve. So we need to get back to that work as quickly as we can. But I’ve also been very clear that we must reflect on the findings of the coroner, learn from the tragic events of last year, and emerge as a better and more effective inspectorate. That means being trusted by parents and respected by the education and social care professionals we work with.We paused school and FE inspections to allow for training to take place. This mental health awareness training is a first step – but for me a critical first step – in reassuring the sectors we work with that we’re serious about change. I’m grateful to the leaders of ASCL, NAHT and the Confederation of School Trusts for some really constructive discussions this week. We’ve agreed that the 22 January is the right date to restart school and FE inspections. That will allow all inspectors to begin the training ahead of then, and gives us time to make sure that every single lead inspector on a school or FE inspection, will have completed it.

Further details

  • All school inspections will begin from w/c 22 January.

  • All inspections of further education and skills providers will begin w/c 22 January.

  • Inspections of initial teacher education providers will begin w/c 22 January.

Inspections have continued where they are undertaken with partners – these include prison education inspections, area SEND inspections and joint targeted area inspections.

Social care and early years inspections and regulatory visits have also continued. In these sectors, Ofsted is the regulator as well as the inspectorate and work is driven by regulatory requirements. All social care and early years inspectors will complete the mental health awareness training as quickly as possible – and in full by the end of March.



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