Some school inspectors 'have forgotten' Covid impact, Wakefield Council senior officer says

A senior education official in Wakefield has suggested Ofsted is grading some schools without recognising the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Andy Lancashire, Wakefield Council’s service director for education and inclusion, said feedback from headteachers suggested the watchdog’s approach “varied” from school to school.

Most pupils are now back in the classroom, having learned remotely during successive lockdowns.

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But secondary schools in Wakefield saw their attendance dip "well below" 90 per cent last month, with Covid forcing some students to isolate.

Students and staff have had to adapt to the changing world.

Staff absence is also a recurring issue and Public Health recently asked headteachers to limit large gatherings of pupils in response to high infection rates.

Speaking at a meeting of local school leaders on Thursday morning, Mr Lancashire said: “I know we’ve had outsiders come in and see how we’re doing and it seems sometimes they’ve forgotten about the challenges we’ve faced.

“I think some of our regional colleagues and those within our national system are feeling sometimes that the recognition Ofsted have for the impact of the pandemic is varied.”

Asked if he was disappointed by this, Mr Lancashire said: “I think for Ofsted it’s tremendously hard to deliver an objective framework around this.

School attendance in local secondaries dropped below 90 per cent last month.

“But I think there’s been a sense of ‘everything’s back to normal’ in terms of how that framework can feel sometimes.”

Mr Lancashire said that there was meant to be “mitigation and understanding” within Ofsted for the problems schools are facing.

But he added: “It very much seems dependent on the inspection team you get.

“I think that intention is there but I’m not confident that that’s across the board."

Ofsted has been contacted for comment.

Local Democracy Reporting Service