14 March 2020


Exceptional Circumstances - Deferral of Inspections Policy


Exceptional Circumstances - Deferral of Inspections Policy


ISI is aware that COVID-19 is presenting serious challenges for all schools, in particular those with boarding and overseas pupils.

We are continuing to work closely with the DfE and are monitoring the situation daily:  in line with current government advice normal inspection activity should be maintained as far as possible. However, where there are ‘exceptional circumstances’, the DfE as regulator has discretion to defer an inspection. 

From the week commencing 16 March, ISI will carry out a risk assessment as part of the notification call for each inspection.  This will be a structured conversation, usually with the Head, which will enable senior leaders to explain the impact of COVID-19 on their provision. This will be used to inform the DfE in their decision making and/or the inspection team to structure their approach to ensure the least disruption to the school at this difficult time.

As ISI stated in the email to schools of 13.3.20, inspectors understand that the current situation will be causing anxiety and additional work across a wide range of schools and – as with any inspection – the context in which the school is inspected will be considered in reaching any inspection judgements. Where schools are taking appropriate measures to deal with issues arising from Covid-19 at the time of the inspection this will be reflected in the judgements.  Inspectors will want to see that school leaders are able to address any urgent needs that arise within the school over the course of the inspection appropriately and will manage the inspection accordingly.

PHE advice

Advice for educational settings