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Ofsted to publish LA school ‘inadequates’ during purdah

Ofsted will publish ‘inadequate’ inspection reports for local authority schools in the run up to the local elections, in a change to the rules.

However the inspectorate said it would hold back any individual report if needed, which “may be necessary where a particular inspection has been the focus of significant local political campaigning”.

Elections are taking place in 107 local authorities across England on May 2. Voters in the capital will also elect the mayor of London and London Assembly members, while another nine directly-elected metro mayors will be picked.

The period of time immediately before elections is known as purdah. During that time, public bodies are required to act in a politically neutral manner. It starts four weeks before local elections and applies only in areas where polls are taking place.

In the run up to the 2019 local elections, Ofsted said it would withhold from publishing ‘inadequate’ inspections of LA schools until after the polls.

But a guidance update this week revealed the watchdog will no longer do so.

Watchdog wants inspection outcomes out ‘as quickly as possible’

Ofsted said it had “consolidated and simplified what we do and don’t publish during pre-election silence to ensure that parents and professionals are getting inspection outcomes as quickly as possible and that we are only withholding reports where they might have a material impact on the local or national election”.

But for both general and council elections, Ofsted will “pause the publication of reports that make LA-wide judgements”.

For the general election, due to be held later this year, it will not publish research and thematic reports which comment on government policy.

Previous DfE pre-election guidance for schools stated they “should be mindful to avoid activity within the school that could be construed as promoting a particular partisan political view and should take reasonable steps to ensure pupils are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views as part of these activities”.

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