This week I report on the HMI visits taking place this term and a new research project to help understand Covid-19 transmission in schools.
Ofsted visits this half term
Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) will visit around 1,200 schools across England this Autumn term, as Ofsted aims to tell parents, government, and the public about how schools are managing the return to full education of their pupils. The visits, initially announced in July, will include schools of different types and of all Ofsted grades across England. Visits will be based around constructive discussions with the school or college leaders; they are not inspections, so will not result in a grade.
They will notify a school of the visit on the day before and talk about the practicalities of the visit – including any specific considerations related to COVID-19. Normally, 2 inspectors will visit a school for 1 day, when they will have collaborative conversations with school leaders.
On the visit, they will talk about any barriers that the school is facing in managing the return to opening fully, how pupils are getting back into expected routines and their behaviour, and the school’s safeguarding arrangements. Inspectors will also talk to school leaders about how remote learning fits into their wider curriculum plans. After a visit, the inspector will write a short letter, which will be published on our reports website.
The first visits will take place at the end of this month. Inspectors will observe social distancing and all other national or local guidance from the government to carry out these visits safely. Full inspection is set to resume in January 2021, but this is being kept under review.
Major research project to help understand coronavirus transmission in schools
The University of Bristol study will saliva-test 4,000 pupils and 1,000 school staff across Bristol once a month for six months. The aim of the study is to understand exactly how pupils transmit coronavirus, whether or not they are symptomatic – it should provide information on how schools should deal with outbreaks.
Schools and the NHS Test and Trace programme will receive the data from the study to help map infections in Bristol. Researchers will also work with schools to help them put appropriate measures in place to stop the transmission of the virus.