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Almost half of “outstanding” schools in England have been downgraded by Ofsted following inspection this term, with more than one in 10 dropping to “requires improvement” or even “inadequate”, according to data published today.

Outstanding schools were until recently exempt from regular inspection, so many have not been visited by the schools inspectorate for up to 10 years or more.

They are however likely to feel aggrieved at being downgraded at a time of widespread disruption in schools due to Covid.

Data published by Ofsted today shows that during the three months up to the end of November 47% of schools previously rated outstanding have lost their top rating following inspection this term. Ofsted said the data relates to 99 previously outstanding schools visited by inspectors during the autumn term.

According to Ofsted, 36% of these schools were downgraded to “good”, 9% went down two rankings to “requires improvement” and 2% were judged “inadequate” which is the lowest possible ranking.

The overall grade profile for schools has, however improved overall, Ofsted said, with 83% of schools judged good or outstanding between September and November this year, compared with 77% between September 2019 and March 2020 when inspections were suspended due to the pandemic.

The Scottish parliament is to suspend all in-person committee meetings after the Christmas and New Year holidays, in a preemptive measure to limit the expected surge in Omicron cases.

Instead, Holyrood will shift to remote committee meetings unless MSPs believe there is a compelling reason to meet in person or in hybrid form, the parliament’s business bureau has decided. The new rules will come into force on 17 January, when Holyrood resumes business after the holidays.

A parliament spokesperson said that staging chamber business, including first minister’s questions, in hybrid form will remain under close review.

The Holyrood authorities plan to make hybrid meetings the norm in future, and are investigating options for a more sophisticated system after procedural problems emerged during FMQs last week.

Alison Johnstone, the presiding officer, had to repeatedly warn Scottish National party MSPs in the chamber to stop interrupting opposition speakers working remotely, particularly Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, who was self-isolating at home after coming into contact with a positive case.

The current hybrid system means the public cannot see or hear what is being said in the chamber if an MSP working remotely is talking. Johnstone believes making hybrid meetings and remote voting permanent will improve Holyrood’s flexibility.

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