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Challenging Ofsted inspection reports

At Stephensons, our specialist Ofsted lawyers regularly represent providers nationwide who are challenging Ofsted inspection reports during the factual accuracy and complaints processes. In particular, we have achieved success at persuading Ofsted to amend, and even remove, parts of an inspection report, as well as withdraw an entire report from publication and re-inspect. We have also successfully challenged gradings, which in some cases has resulted in the overall grading of a service being changed.

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers understand the intense pressure on providers to comply with the vast and complex regulations governing regulated settings, whilst ensuring that those in their care are suitably protected and safeguarded. We appreciate how a negative inspection report can impact significantly on a provider’s business and reputation and in many cases, unfairly so.

If you have received a draft inspection report and wish to challenge your inspection through the factual accuracy process and/or via a complaint, we can assist you with compiling a robust and detailed response to Ofsted to place you in the best possible position. For a confidential discussion with our team, please contact us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form.


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The procedure

Stage 1: Informal complaint

It is encouraged by Ofsted that providers should raise any concerns they may have as soon as they arise with the individuals involved. If the concerns are about the inspectors, it is recommended that providers speak to the lead inspector during a visit. As of January 2024, providers have the opportunity to raise concerns immediately after the inspection itself with an experienced inspector who is independent of the inspection in question.

At Stephensons, we understand that this is not always easy. Many providers are often worried that if they raise a concern, it might have a negative impact on the inspection or problems may not be raised by staff until after the inspection. You can speak to our Ofsted lawyers today to find out if you have a case to challenge Ofsted.

Stage 2: Factual accuracy challenge

After a provider has undergone an inspection by Ofsted, they will receive a draft inspection report and will have the opportunity to challenge the accuracy of the report, as well as raise any concerns about the inspection process and conduct of the inspector(s). They are given five working days to submit their challenge from the date that the draft report was issued.

Many providers will often feel reluctant to make challenges, as they do not wish to aggravate matters with their Ofsted inspector. However, providers should submit a challenge if they have concerns about the accuracy of a report and/or concerns about the process. A failure to challenge a draft report will result in a presumption that the contents of the report is accurate, and the report will be published. There will also be no record that a provider has challenged any of the findings within a report; this can be problematic if Ofsted pursue enforcement action on the basis of these findings and the provider disputes the need for such action.

It is therefore vital that providers seek specialist advice as soon as they receive their draft report.

Stage 3: Formal complaint

Following the factual accuracy stage, the final report will be issued to a provider. If a provider remains dissatisfied with the report and the conclusions reached, they can raise a formal complaint to Ofsted. A provider must submit their complaint within five working days of publication of the final report. Publication of the report will be delayed until the complaint has been investigated. Ofsted will not normally accept a formal complaint before the final report has been sent.

Generally, a complaint is made to Ofsted online. The provider can explain their concern and submit any supporting documentation. Complaints will be dealt with by an independent investigator and usually they do not work in the region where the setting is based. Once a complaint is submitted, Ofsted will have 30 working days to investigate and respond to the complaint. 

It is vital that providers make detailed and supported complaints, and also make use of Ofsted’s inspection framework, when challenging an inspection or inspection report. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers can assist you with compiling a robust and detailed complaint to Ofsted to place you in the best possible position to obtain the outcome that you are seeking.

Stage 4: Request for an internal review

The final stage is a request for an internal review. It is important to understand that this stage is only to look into how a complaint was dealt with and it is not a re-consideration of the original complaint itself. If a provider does wish to request an internal review, then this will need to be done within 15 working days of Ofsted’s response to the original complaint.

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers can help you

If you are not happy with the way Ofsted has dealt or is dealing with your case, you should seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible. For a confidential discussion with one of our specialist Ofsted lawyers, please call us on 0161 696 6250 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.

  • Challenging Ofsted Inspection Reports

    Specialist Ofsted solicitor Chloe Parish talks about why an organisation may need to challenge an Ofsted report. Chloe provides guidance on the process, how to prepare a complaint and explains why professional legal advice is vital.


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