The Guardian

Head of Ofsted: ‘Some schools may have put food parcels above teaching’

- Sally Weale Education correspond­ent

Schools that prioritise­d sending food parcels to their poorest pupils during lockdown in England may not have been able to focus on providing an education to all their students, the head of Ofsted has claimed.

Amanda Spielman said it was “admirable” to have focused on children who were in greatest need when the pandemic first hit, but this may have had consequenc­es for the calibre of learning on offer.

She added: “In a lot of schools it felt as though their attention went very rapidly to the most disadvanta­ged children, into making food parcels … but in some cases that probably got prioritise­d – certainly in the summer of 2020 – which may have meant they did not have the capacity left to make sure there was some kind of education offer for all children.”

Her comments, at an Institute for Government event, were in response to questions about the obvious advantage private schools had when it came to online teaching.

Her views drew immediate criticism from unions, which described them as ill-judged, saying school staff had gone to incredible lengths to protect and care for pupils in “the most unimaginab­ly challengin­g of times”.

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Associatio­n of Head Teachers, said: “From the very start of the crisis, staff looked after the most vulnerable pupils as the country went into lockdown; they effectivel­y reimagined the very concept of ‘school’ as they worked to implement a remote learning offer.”

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