Circulars 0040/2020 and 0041/2020, which issued in June of 2020, informed schools of the range of advisory, research and evaluative work that inspectors would be conducting in schools in the 2021/22 school year. The circular stated : ‘It is envisaged that advisory, research and evaluation work will continue in the second and third terms of the school year 2020/21 and the Inspectorate is also planning for a carefully phased recommencement of a limited programme of normal inspection work in this period.’ Circulars 001/2021 and 002/2021, which issued in January 2021 drew schools attention to Circulars 40/2020 and 41/2020.
Accordingly, a small number of incidental inspections have been undertaken in schools since 16 April 2021. All of these incidental inspections, other than in very exceptional circumstances, are notified in advance to the principals of the schools concerned which allows for arrangements to be put in place to carry out the visits safely. The focus of these visits is on providing advice to teachers and schools on aspects of teaching and learning in a context where students have missed a great deal of face-to-face instruction in Term 2 of the current school year. These inspections will also provide the Inspectorate with important information on the impact of school closures on student learning and on how teachers and schools are responding to students’ needs in the pandemic context. Feedback from schools and inspectors on the inspections carried out to date has been positive overall and principals have generally welcomed the opportunity to engage in professional dialogue with inspectors on the work of their school in the pandemic context.
As outlined in the circulars above, the Inspectorate is also continuing to conduct urgent follow-through inspections, child protection-related inspections and Sustaining Safe Provision of Schools (SSPS) inspections in a sample of schools.