15 January 2021


Inspections in the spring term 2021

  • Throughout this period, the DfE retain the right to commission Material Change Visits, Additional Inspections and Progress Monitoring Visits. The approach to these has been to require them only where there is a compelling case and we have worked with the DfE to ensure an appropriate risk assessment is in place.
  • At present, routine inspection is to resume in a phased manner from the start of the summer term 2021, with full routine inspection being in place by September 2021. Any change to this will be communicated to all our schools and inspectors and put on our LinkedIn page and on our website.

For information on the inspection of remote provision and complaints and concerns please see our Coronavirus inspection information page here.

Publication of reports

  • We are currently undertaking Remote Reviews (more information following) which do not result in a published report.

Action Plans

  • Schools that were found non-compliant at their last inspection and that would like to make progress with the action planning process should write directly to the DfE. Once an action plan has been agreed with the DfE, it will be evaluated as usual and, where appropriate, the DfE will commission a Progress Monitoring Visit (see below).

Additional Inspections, Progress Monitoring and Material Change Visits

  • Since the suspension of routine inspections in March 2020, the DfE has retained the right to commission Additional Inspections, Material Change Visits and Progress Monitoring Visits at any point.
  • At the start of the spring term 2021, we are not currently undertaking any on-site inspections, other than if commissioned by the DfE to do so in response to serious safeguarding or welfare concerns about a school.  This will be kept under review as the situation develops and any change will be communicated to our schools and inspectors.   
    • The inspections that we are undertaking are Remote Reviews for Material Change Visits and Progress Monitoring Visits where an ISI risk assessment has found that a Remote Review is likely to provide sufficient, robust evidence to inform the DfE’s decision about the next steps.
    • The DfE reviews ISI’s risk assessment and decides whether to approve the recommendation for a Remote Review.
    • A Remote Review includes a review of all applicable paperwork, discussions with the Head and others and, if appropriate, a virtual site tour.
    • A Remote Review results in a brief report, the Remote Review Outcome Statement. This confirms whether the evidence that has been evaluated remotely suggests that the relevant standards and requirements are likely to be met.
    • The DfE will then take the decision as appropriate whether to return the school to the routine cycle or to grant the material change; the school may still be subject to an on-site visit when routine inspections recommence.
    • The Remote Review Outcome Statement will be shared with the school but will not be published.
    • The school will receive a letter from the DfE confirming the finding in the Outcome Statement. There is some delay with these at present.
    • If the finding of the Remote Review is that, from the evidence that has been evaluated remotely, it is not possible to confirm whether the relevant standards and requirements are likely to be met, then the DfE will commission an on-site inspection to take place within an agreed timeframe.
    • In the autumn term 2020, we undertook 36 Remote Reviews and received highly positive feedback from schools and inspectors.

Other information


  • All of our training will be remote for the spring term in 2021. We intend to start training our RIs and TIs towards the end of the spring term and will include in their training a module of what life has been like in schools during the pandemic.

Inspector Recruitment

  • We are committed to ensuring that, once our inspectors are trained, we deploy them on inspection as quickly as possible. Because of suspension of inspections and the uncertainty around their resumption, we have put a freeze on recruiting RIs and TIs for the time being.  We will, of course, let schools know as soon as we open recruitment again.