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Ofsted rolls out key complaints process changes

Two key changes to Ofsted’s updated complaints procedure for schools come into force today, following a consultation last year.

The watchdog has also added detail to its policy on pausing inspections in exceptional circumstances and widened it to apply across all childcare, education and social care inspections and regulatory visits, whereas before it just applied to schools.

New complaints rules kick in

New arrangements for considering formal challenges to Ofsted inspections apply from today.

Schools can now seek a review of their inspection, including inspector conduct and the judgements made, by submitting a formal complaint when they receive their draft report.

Schools concerned their complaint did not correctly follow the right process can also now to go directly to the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted, after its internal review process was axed.

The inspectorate committed to making the changes in November following a consultation which received more than 1,500 responses from providers in all sectors it inspects.

More details of pausing inspections

In January, Ofsted said school inspection could be paused for up to five days. 

Today’s updated guidance details how long the others organisations it inspects can pause for before an inspection would automatically become incomplete.

For instance, for inspections of initial teacher training, the early career framework and national professional qualifications, further education and skills or area SEND, a pause can last up to 15 days.

It has also combined its deferring, pausing and gathering additional evidence policies into a single policy.

Ofsted has also listed “considerations” for pausing inspections across its different remits. For instance, for ITT “where the event is a multi-phase inspection of provision, it may be appropriate to only pause one phase of the inspection”.

Sir Martyn Oliver, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said the changes “offer a further opportunity to resolve complaints, should it be required.

“I want to assure providers that we will acknowledge any mistakes made and take steps to put them right. I’m determined that we will learn from complaints to improve the way Ofsted works.”

Ofsted’s updated complaints process applies to inspections and regulatory activity carried out across all education and care provider it inspects from today onwards.

Changes to provide “enhanced” on-site “professional dialogue during inspections to help address issues” and to allow providers to contact Ofsted the day after an inspection to raise concerns were introduced in January.

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