Deferring and pausing Ofsted inspections: guidance

You can ask for an Ofsted inspection to be deferred if you have concerns about your school's circumstances. Pausing an inspection might also be necessary, to protect your or your staff's wellbeing. Find out when and how you can make a request for a deferral or a pause.

Last reviewed on 22 March 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 49408
  1. What's the difference between a deferral and a pause?
  2. When you can request a deferral
  3. Make deferral requests as soon as possible
  4. When you can request a pause
  5. How to request a pause
  6. Inspectors must consider your wellbeing

In exceptional circumstances, you can request a deferral or a pause of an Ofsted inspection. 

This is explained in paragraph 89 of the School Inspection Handbook

What's the difference between a deferral and a pause?

Deferring an inspection is when a visit is rescheduled for a later date because it can't go ahead on the planned date. This is usually agreed before inspectors arrive, during the notification process.

Pausing an inspection is when an inspection has already started, but is temporarily stopped and inspectors leave the site. The visit is then resumed at a later date. This decision is usually made by the lead inspector, but

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