Fake news is making it more difficult for schools to cope during the pandemic. The spread of misinformation is fuelling parental anxiety, causing more pupils to be kept at home for schooling.
This was a key finding of the first tranche of its autumn inspection visits to schools to see how they are coping during the pandemic. More than one-third of schools said parents were keeping their child home because of fears of them catching Covid-19.
School leaders were also struggling to keep up with all the guidance from government. This needs to be simplified, said Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.
The top challenges of providing remote learning was access to online resources. Inspectors also found that the remote learning programme was not ‘aligned’ to the school’s regular curriculum.
‘They must not lose the progression that a strong, well-sequenced curriculum brings,’ said Ms Spielman. ‘Without that structure, remote education becomes more about filling time than about effective learning.’
Back in school, some pupils were finding it more difficult to concentrate than usual, and were giving up more quickly if the work seemed difficult. School leaders also reported that some pupils were noticeably more subdued since returning to school.
Meanwhile, the NAHT continued to call for Ofsted to remove the threat of inspections from schools while they were coping with the pandemic, and helping pupils catch up on missed learning.
‘In the interim, let’s use the time to rebuild what we want and need from our accountability systems so they are ready to go as soon as schools are able to get back to operating in something like normal circumstances,’ said President Ruth Davies.
The NEU agreed, calling it ‘farcical’ to think that a day’s inspection would be ‘in anyway helpful or supportive’ for schools at this time. ‘If Ofsted wants to be of any use at all it should send its qualified inspectors into schools to teach,’ said Joint General Secretary Dr Mary Bousted.