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External school inspections postponed until the New Year

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Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has decided to temporarily postpone external inspections of education settings so that staff can focus fully on the priority of keeping schools operational while managing current COVID-19 challenges.

Senior educationalists have been in daily dialogue with headteachers and principals about current challenges linked to cases in and across education settings.  In light of that dialogue, the Committee has agreed that operational pressures this term are such that a short delay in inspection, although regrettable, is sensible and proportionate. Early last week the Committee confirmed that the new school and College of Further Education external education inspection agreement is now in place and this remains the case.  However, the Committee has monitored the position of settings over the past few days and has concluded that the priority at the moment must be continuing to support settings delivering education at a time of rising cases of Covid-19 and so staff should focus on this primarily in the run up to Christmas, rather than awaiting the possibility of an inspection notification.

By temporarily delaying so that no inspection takes place before January, the Committee wanted to acknowledge the current demands on staff and thank them for their ongoing efforts to manage implications of a rise of Covid-19 cases in settings.

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture, said:

'We're grateful to headteachers and principals for their daily engagement with the Director of Education and his team who have helped the Committee understand the current challenges on the front-line of education provision. We know that our schools and settings are under real pressure at the moment due to the surge in Covid-19 cases through the community which, while always expected, has raised significant challenges in managing the situation and working to ensure disruption to the education of our young people is minimised.

'It is important to make clear that the Committee's decision to postpone the external inspections is purely about recognising that the current priority must be to manage the continuing challenges presented by the pandemic, and that it would be unfair of us to expect staff to also focus on inspections should their setting be selected. It would also present difficulties for Ofsted in carrying out their inspections should issues arise in gaining access to the staff they need to engage with, as part of that process, as a result of COVID. We remain committed to the new inspection framework beginning when things have settled, because it is an essential part of the continual improvement process that I know all education leaders and we as a Committee also consider vital.'

Nick Hynes, Director of Education, said:

'Schools undergoing inspection by an objective third party is really important for all stakeholders involved in education, however it has become clear in our recent and daily discussions with school leaders that managing the implications of the current number of Covid-19 cases linked to settings is presenting them with real challenges. I would like to thank all staff for tackling these challenges through their hard-work, commitment and creative problem-solving as we all focus on the priority of keeping schools and settings running so that students' education is not disrupted any more than absolutely necessary. But we know that staff are stretched at the moment - for example currently many headteachers are also acting as classroom teachers - and therefore it is not viable to also welcome external inspectors into school whilst there are significant ongoing staffing pressures.

'External inspections are essential for everyone involved in education and we are all committed to the process of continual improvement, and we look forward to welcoming Ofsted to carry out this work beginning in the New Year.'

Inspection handbooks, which provide significant detail around the Bailiwick's inspection framework, can be found at Education - States of Guernsey (gov.gg)

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