Senior school leaders in state schools have described the pressures on them during the Covid-19 crisis as “unsustainable, overwhelming or unrealistic”, a report by Ofsted has said.

The briefing from the inspectorate, based on visits to 380 schools, said that extra responsibilities had reduced leaders’ time to do their usual work in the school day, leading to them working more in the evenings and at weekends.

Ofsted also explained how headteachers are “taking on more teaching responsibilities, either to alleviate their staff's workload or when members of staff must self-isolate.”

Inspectors found that “last minute” messages and guidance in relation to the pandemic from the DFE changed frequently and did not give leaders enough time for planning and implementation.

Leaders were also taking on extra work monitoring safety procedures because they did not want to add to classroom teachers’ workload.

Some leaders were finding it challenging to support the mental health and well-being of staff and pupils, the report said.

“Leaders in some schools that are graded inadequate or requires improvement say that they have an added pressure of working on school improvement while balancing an increased workload”, the report added.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the TES: “The government isn’t doing enough to support schools and colleges to stay open because of its continued refusal to reimburse them for the huge costs involved in managing Covid safety measures and hiring supply cover when staff have to self-isolate.

"These costs are completely unsustainable and the government must act.”

Ofsted is still carrying out visits to schools this term but they will be conducted remotely during the latest lockdown.