Schools and early education update: September 2021

Message from the National Director, Education

Welcome to the latest edition of the schools and early education update. I hope those of you who took time off over the summer had a well-deserved and relaxing break; and for those of you who stayed closer to home, I hope you found time to recuperate after a particularly challenging 17 months.

As I formally take up my new post as National Director, Education, I would first like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Sean Harford, for his immense contribution to Ofsted’s work over many years and to wish him the very best for the future on his retirement.

I would also like to thank you for all your hard work and achievements over the past academic year. It has undoubtedly been full of challenges, but I hope also fulfilling and rewarding, as children and learners have returned to on-site education.

With restrictions in England having been lifted almost entirely, I hope you are adjusting well to things gradually getting back to normal. We must all remain cautious, however, as we see the number of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases rise and fall nationally. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will prioritise the health and safety of all our inspectors and staff, and those we come into contact with through our work. We will continue to review and update our risk assessments to reflect the current situation. We will continue with the policies and processes that we put in place during the pandemic, such as regular testing for inspectors, to help keep colleagues safe as we return to our full programme of activity this term.

Our inspection handbooks, guidance and instruments have been updated in readiness for the start of the new academic year. Inspector training has taken place over the summer months and this month to ensure that you are all fully equipped and ready as we return to our routine programme of inspections.

In this packed edition, we have a wide range of information and guidance for inspectors across the schools and early education remits:

  • changes to the school inspection handbooks, guidance and inspection instruments for September 2021
  • curriculum catch-up after the COVID-19 restrictions
  • curriculum leaders
  • curriculum narrowing and key stage 3
  • mathematics deep dives in primary schools
  • Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges
  • early career framework (ECF)
  • reporting on off-rolling
  • inspecting religious education and collective worship
  • engagement model
  • Ofsted Inspectors (OIs) providing consultancy services
  • sharing provisional inadequate judgements with local authorities
  • publication of a section 5 report after a school closes
  • writing about fundamental British values
  • reporting the governance of academies in inspection reports
  • Department for Education’s (DfE) non-statutory guidance on character education
  • training for schools on challenging sexism
  • revisions to the early years foundation stage (EYFS) from 1 September 2021 and accompanying non-statutory guidance, ‘Development matters’
  • disapplications to, and modifications of, the EYFS
  • Reception baseline assessment

We hope this edition provides a useful resource to complement other guidance and training materials that you have for this year.

Best wishes

Chris Russell
National Director, Education