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Tuesday 12 January 2021

Ofsted suspends site visits following pressure from the FDA

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The FDA has welcomed the decision by Ofsted to move to remote inspections until after the February half term.

At their Annual General Meeting on Monday 11 January, 91% of FDA members in Ofsted had voted in support of a motion calling for site visits to be suspended. As reported by Schools WeekTES and Union News, members at the meeting raised serious concerns about the risks posed to the health of young people and staff, and called for on-site activity to be limited to instances where there were immediate safeguarding concerns.

With the new Covid variant transmitting at 50-70% higher than before and much higher numbers still attending nurseries, schools and colleges compared to the first lockdown, FDA National Officer for Ofsted, Duncan Woodhead argued that "our first priority must be the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, as well as sector staff."

“The Secretary of State for Health has made clear that we are at the worst point in this pandemic and has urged everyone to act like they have the virus. In these circumstances, it is simply unacceptable for Ofsted to still be carrying out regular site visits.

“As well as the clear risks to the health of HMI staff undertaking the visits, with inspectors moving from site to site, there are clear risks posed to the health of students and school staff. This is a burden school leaders, already working in incredibly difficult circumstances, could well do without."

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, Ofsted has now reviewed its plans and suspended site visits unless there are immediate concerns. Reacting to the announcement, Woodhead welcomed the change: "We are pleased that HM Chief Inspector has listened to the serious concerns raised by Ofsted staff."
Woodhead stressed that FDA members remain willing to undertake visits to address immediate concerns.

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