So, who can complain about an Ofsted inspection report and how can you lodge an objection?
In fact, only schools, childcare providers, (or certain other institutions) inspected by Ofsted can make a protest online.
As a rule, the essence of the problem must relate to (either):
- The actual inspection process itself.
- How the inspectors conducted the inspection (e.g. the behaviour or conduct of an Ofsted inspector).
- The outcome of a reported inspection (including the report).
What if a parent, or a member of the public, wants to complain about an Ofsted inspection report? In this case, you should contact the school or the provider to express your concerns.
Parents cannot file a direct complaint to Ofsted!
Note: In general, raising concerns and making a complaint about Ofsted will not stop them publishing a report. Neither are they likely to remove an existing report during the investigation of an official complaint.
Steps Before Making a Complaint
The best time to raise any concerns, or speak out against the report, is during the actual inspection. There would usually be an opportunity to discuss the issue with the lead inspector (or at least clarify a grumble).
Suppose you find fault with an Ofsted inspection report, their service, or one of their staff members. Often, they can address serious concerns before they draft or publish their findings.
What if you are unable to speak to the lead inspector?
In this case, you can phone the Ofsted helpline instead. There should be a senior manager based in the education complaints department at Ofsted. You can also chat to the company who coordinated the inspection.
Ofsted Complaints Procedure
Follow the specific complaints procedure to express dissatisfaction with an Ofsted inspection report. You must file the complaint online (unless resolved during the inspection).
Lodging a protestation can occur at any time up to ten (10) working days:
- After raising the initial concern.
- After the publication of the report.
The Next Step
Ofsted would respond by having an investigating officer discuss the complaint with the school, childcare provider, or institution. The follow up investigation would involve:
- Evidence from the original report.
- Feedback from the team who conducted the initial inspection.
Note: As a rule, they provide a written response within thirty (30) working days of receiving a complaint. Read more on how their policy sets out a specific approach and procedures for handling complaints about Ofsted.
How to Ask for an Internal Review
You can use the Ofsted internal review form to ask for a final decision on whether they handled your grievance in a proper manner. You must lodge a request for an internal review within fifteen (15) working days of the date they sent the original response.
The next step is for a ‘scrutiny committee’ to carry out an independent review of how the complaint got handled. As a rule, you will get a final response within one (1) month.
If You Still Remain Dissatisfied
The Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted can also review the case. You would need to ask ICASO within three (3) months of getting a written response to the Ofsted internal review.
Note: ICASO will be unable to change the outcome of complaints about Ofsted. But, the organisation can make recommendations on how the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) conducts its services.
This step is important:
What if you are still unhappy with the review carried out by ICASO? As an individual (or as a private organisation) you can make a complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
But, even though it is a free service, they cannot handle complaints put forward by public organisations, such as a state school.