Coronavirus

Rolling Information for Schools / Parents / Pupils

This page will be kept updated

Our school inspections have been deferred due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  We will not be publishing reports during this time. 

For schools:

Part completed inspections

If you were inspected recently and have completed the FAC process, your inspection report will be shared with you, the DfE, your association and Ofsted but it will not be published by us at the moment; nor are you required to publish it at this time.  However, if you would like to do so, you may.  Once we know when normal service will be resumed, we will give you a date by which you will have to publish the report, and we will publish two weeks after that, as usual. 

For inspections that have already taken place, but have not yet been through FAC we will continue with this process.  We realise that schools may not be able to respond swiftly to the FAC so we ask that it be completed within 6 weeks, with extensions possible (please email delivery@isi.net).

School closures and re-opening

The Coronavirus Act 2020 contains provisions allowing for temporary closure of educational institutions, including independent schools, and childcare.

A temporary closure direction is a direction that requires the responsible body of a school to take reasonable steps to secure that persons do not, for a specified period, attend premises of the school. This allows for schools to operate online.

Application of the Independent School Standards (ISS)

The ISS apply when a school is operating as a school. If a school closes except for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, essentially operating as a safe place for children, then it may not be operating as a school. Schools will not be held accountable in this period against the full range of standards (such as the range of educational provision) but should prioritise safeguarding as usual.

If a school remains open but operating entirely remotely and online – then in principle the ISS may apply. However, ISI recognises the challenges schools are facing in trying to do the right thing by children and staff in very difficult circumstances; at this time the guiding principle is that schools should be ‘actively promoting the wellbeing of children’. ISI will not be inspecting schools’ current online educational provision against the ISS, but the DfE may commission inspection activity in respect of safeguarding issues where appropriate.

Safeguarding

An ISI document giving prompts about safeguarding considerations in this situation has been published here.

The DfE has published short guidance: on safeguarding and remote education  during this period of national emergency.

It should be read alongside Coronavirus (COVID-19): safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers.

Handling complaints during the coronavirus outbreak 

As we move into the education recovery phase from 1st June, schools should review and update their policies to reflect the new situation.  In particular, schools will now wish to ensure that the timescales specified in their Complaints Policy are realistic for complaints handling. This may entail extending the usual timescales or issuing a temporary policy to provide greater flexibility in the context of current challenges.

If you are told a child is at risk you must contact your local council or call the police on 101.

Early years foundation stage

Modifications have been made to EYFS requirements. See here for more information.

Impact of Covid-19 on inspections of British Schools Overseas (BSOs)

Accreditation under the voluntary BSO scheme is through inspection by an inspectorate approved by the UK government. It usually lasts for 3 years at which point the school must be inspected again for re-accreditation.  Where it is not feasible for inspections to go ahead, for example, because they have been closed by their home government on account of the outbreak of Covid-19, BSOs should inform the Department for Education (DfE).

In circumstances where DfE have been made aware that the school have had their inspection postponed due to Covid-19, the DfE has indicated that it will ensure that their BSO accreditation is extended until the inspection has been rescheduled and carried out.

Therefore we would advise all BSOs whose inspections have been impacted, and would like to apply for an extension to their accreditation to contact the DfE at BritishSchools.OVERSEAS@education.gov.uk.

For more information and guidance see here (external link).

FAQ: Pupil Registration requirements

Registration

The DfE has issued guidance on pupil registration:

For schools which are closed, except to the children of critical workers and vulnerable children, to minimise the burden on them and ensure that only the most important information is submitted, settings must

  • Stop taking their normal attendance registers
  • Consider making use of the attendance spreadsheet to record attendance for all children at the educational setting.
  • Use the information in the record of attendance spreadsheet, or from another source if the information is held elsewhere, to complete this online form notifying the Department for Education about your status regarding COVID-19.


The form is designed for those schools which are physically open for vulnerable children and children of key workers. It is not suitable or required for schools operating online/remotely. However, we suggest that schools will find it helpful for safeguarding reasons and their own purposes to have a record of which pupils participate.

As schools start to re-open, normal registration of pupil attendance must recommence. The national attendance codes are non-statutory for independent schools, so there is in-built flexibility if wished for distinguishing the recording of those who are ‘present’ on and off-site and reasons for non-attendance.

Guidance from the Department for Education

On this page in the government’s  "Guidance and regulation" section, you will find DfE guidance for educational settings, guidance on maintaining educational provision, information for parents and carers, guidance on free school meals and guidance on attendance recording.

The guidance may change daily, so please check it regularly.  

The DfE coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

  • Phone: 0800 046 8687
  • Opening hours: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday
  • If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.


Vetting checks during social distancing

Temporary changes have been made to the way identity documents should be checked during the pandemic to enable those carrying out vetting checks to preserve social distancing. Read more …

Complaints to ISI

ISI will continue to operate the ISI complaints process during the period when inspections are suspended. However, in the light of current challenges, we are extending the time period for ISI to respond at each stage by up to 20 working days. Schools may also request an extension of time at each stage by contacting: complaints@isi.net. We hope that it would not always be necessary to make use of the additional days. Please note that extensions must be agreed in advance of the filing deadline.

Exams
Information about this year's exams can be found here

For parents
Parents may find the answer to some of their questions above.

Fees

Issues relating to fees are not within the remit of ISI.  They are a contractual matter for discussion between parents and schools.

The following bodies may be able to assist:

Exam queries: The Joint Council for Qualifications  

Tel: 020 7638 4132  info@jcq.org.uk

Unfair contract terms:  Competition and Markets Authority 

Tel: 020 3738 6000  general.enquiries@cma.gov.uk

Governance/safeguarding/financial concerns excluding fees: Charity Commission www.gov.uk/complain-about-charity

Data Protection and subject access requests: Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

For non-ISC schools: Ofsted: 0300 1234 666

 

Updates:

Updated 27 March 2020 to include information about registration, and fees.

Updated 30 March 2020 to change ‘key workers’ to ‘critical workers’, to be clear that online provision in this period will not be subject to inspection, to reference the DfE’s new safeguarding guidance for the period of school closure.

Updated 06 April 2020 to include vetting checks during social distancing.

Updated 07 April 2020 to include complaints to ISI.

Updated 24 April 2020 to link further DfE guidance on safeguarding and clarification about the application of the ISS.

Updated 05 May 2020 with links to organisations in Fees section

Updated 14 May 2020 with the handling complaints during the coronavirus outbreak and impact of Covid-19 on inspections of British Schools Overseas sections

Updated 26 May 2020 to include new information on handling complaints