Ofsted Issues Guidance on Pausing Inspections

Empty modern preschool classroom

Ofsted Issues Guidance on Pausing Inspections

The early years sector is rightly proud of its status as a regulated profession, and the vast majority of inspections result in Good or Outstanding grades, but it is nonetheless the case that inspections are extremely stressful even for the most well-run business to undergo. 

Ofsted has issued new guidance on when early years inspections may be paused for staff welfare reasons. This comes as part of a range of changes being issued in the aftermath of the tragic death of Ruth Perry, who committed suicide following her school receiving an Inadequate grade. 

The updated guidance now states:

There may be occasions when it is difficult or inappropriate for an inspection to continue. For example, there may be a significant event involving a member of staff or a child, or significant concerns about leaders’ welfare. We will consider these on a case-by-case basis, and will be sympathetic to the pressures on leaders and staff.

‘If, at any time, an inspector thinks that an inspection should be paused, they should immediately contact the duty desk. The duty desk will liaise with the regional director, who will advise on next steps.’

This move is likely to be welcomed by the sector, who have long argued that the stress of inspections can place an intolerable burden on staff, and that measures taken in the schools sector to address the issue must be extended to other industries under Ofsted’s remit. 

The guidance also makes explicit that inspectors should consider making suitable adjustments if a staff member becomes upset, and clarifies matters relating to the complaints process. Even with these measures however, there remain calls for wider reforms to the inspectorate, to ensure that its processes do not end up undermining its overall mission of ensuring high quality of provision.

The Inspection Handbook can be accessed here