Ofsted factual accuracy challenge
After a provider has undergone an inspection by Ofsted, the provider will receive a draft inspection report and have the opportunity to make any factual accuracy comments and comments on the inspection process.
Historically, a Provider was only able to submit comments to challenge the factual accuracy of an inspection report. In addition, the timeframe given to lodge factual accuracy comments was very short and differed across different regions and depending on the type of inspection. As of September 2020, Ofsted have standardised the timeframe given to providers to 5 working days. In addition to this and more importantly, the new process allows for a provider to submit any comments about issues with ‘the inspection process’.
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.
There are three stages to Ofsted’s complaints procedure, which are:
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.
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: Formal complaint
A Provider must submit their complaint within 5 working days of publication of the final report. In most cases, 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 3: Request for an internal review
The third 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.
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.