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Ofsted defence lawyers case studies

Our regulatory solicitors have an excellent reputation for providing advice and representation in relation to compliance, inspections, enforcement action and appeals to the first-tier tribunal. Our team has experience of dealing with a wide range of cases and the following case studies are examples of our recent work in this area. If you would like advice about any area relating to Ofsted contact our specialist solicitors on 0161 696 6250.

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Enforcement action and registration refusal case studies

Children’s home appeal

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to represent a children’s home that had been issued with a notice of cancellation of registration by Ofsted. We were instructed after the owner of the home had lodged their appeal to the first tier tribunal. The reasons for the cancellation were wide-ranging, including a long history of concerns regarding the home’s compliance with regulations, their management of children’s behaviour, record keeping and concerns about the honesty and integrity of the owner and responsible individual at the home.

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers dealt with the initial stages of the appeal and prepared witness statements and evidence in response to the concerns, which was substantial. Upon receiving and considering our evidence, Ofsted approached us to advise they were no longer opposing our appeal and the appeal was therefore allowed. This meant that the home could remain open and the child residing at the home could remain there.

Appeal against notices restricting accommodation at a children’s home

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to represent a provider who had been issued with a notice restricting accommodation at two of their children’s homes. This was due to concerns about the provider’s financial stability and an ongoing dispute that they were having with the local authority about placement fees. We assisted the provider in engaging with Ofsted and providing appropriate financial information. Ofsted continued to keep the restrictions in place, therefore an appeal was lodged with the First-Tier Tribunal in respect of each Notice. It was submitted that the Notices were not proportionate when considering that the Provider had supplied significant financial information, and when considering that they were engaging positively with the local authority. It was also pointed out that the restriction notices appeared counter-productive, as the restrictions prevented new admissions which in turn would impact upon the financial viability of the homes. Following the lodging of the appeals, Ofsted made the decision to lift the restrictions in place.

Representations against a notice of proposal to refuse the registration of a supported accommodation undertaking

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to represent a company that had been issued with a notice of proposal to refuse their application for registration to carry on a supported accommodation undertaking. The reasons for refusal related primarily to the safety of the proposed premises, with some limited issues in relation to the management of the service. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers drafted detailed representations against the refusal to register the provision and advised the company on appropriate supporting documentation to submit. Upon receiving and considering our representations, Ofsted made the decision to uphold the representations. This meant that the company obtained registration and were able to accept new admissions.

Representations against a notice of proposal to refuse registration of a children’s home

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed by a children’s home and its manager in respect of a notice of proposal to refuse their registration with Ofsted. The reasons for refusal related to concerns about the responsible individual and the manager’s abilities to meet the regulations. Detailed representations were made to Ofsted on behalf of the home and the manager, setting out why the decision to refuse registration was unreasonable and detailing the steps taken by both to rectify the outstanding issues. Within a matter of days of lodging the representations, Ofsted confirmed that they would not be adopting either of the proposals, and that registration for both the home and the manager would be granted.

Nursery suspension lifted

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers represented a nursery that was subject to a suspension order issued by Ofsted as a result of a serious safeguarding incident that took place. Our Ofsted lawyers assisted the nursery with lodging an appeal against the suspension notice to the First-tier Tribunal. Our lawyers prepared witness statements and evidence to demonstrate that the nursery had taken steps to prevent the incident from occurring again and that the nursery did not place children at risk of harm. Upon consideration of this evidence and a matter of days before the appeal was heard by the Tribunal, Ofsted made the decision to lift the suspension with immediate effect. 

Representations against a Notice of Intention to cancel a nursery provider’s registration

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to represent a childcare provider that had been issued with a notice of intention to cancel their registration as a childcare provider. The reasons for refusal related primarily to a history of poor compliance. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers drafted detailed objections, setting out the reasons why this action was not proportionate. Upon receiving and considering our representations, Ofsted made the decision to uphold the representations. This meant that the provider retained their registration.

Successful appeal against a Notice of Cancellation of a nursery

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to act on behalf of a nursery that had been issued with a notice of decision to cancel their registration with Ofsted. The reasons for the cancellation were wide-ranging, including a long history of concerns regarding the nursery’s compliance with the regulations. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers assisted the nursery in lodging an appeal to the first tier tribunal. Our Ofsted lawyers also dealt with all stages up to the appeal hearing, including attending the telephone case management hearings, preparing a number of witness statements and evidence in support of the appeal, and preparing various legal documents such as the Scott Schedule. Shortly before the final hearing, Ofsted conducted two monitoring visits at the nursery and agreed that improvements had been made. They subsequently confirmed that they were no longer opposing the appeal and the appeal was therefore allowed. This meant that the nursery was able to continue operating. 

Childminder suspension lifted

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to act on behalf of a childminder who was subject to a suspension order issued by Ofsted due to safeguarding concerns being raised. We lodged an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal on the basis that the safeguarding concerns had been addressed and therefore the suspension was not reasonable or proportionate. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers prepared witness statements and evidence to demonstrate that the childminder was not a risk to children and had sufficient safeguarding knowledge. Within a matter of days before the appeal hearing was due to be heard, Ofsted lifted the suspension. The childminder was able to continue operating without restriction.

Successful suspension appeal for childminder

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to act on behalf of a childminder who was subject to a suspension order issued by Ofsted, and had also been issued with a Notice of Intention to cancel their registration as a child-minder. Ofsted took these actions as a result of an allegation by a parent that our client had assaulted a minded child. Ofsted also had concerns about our client’s safeguarding knowledge.

Ofsted refused to lift the suspension due to the concerns, and therefore an appeal was lodged with the First-tier Tribunal. Our specialist Ofsted lawyers prepared witness statements and evidence to demonstrate that the childminder was not a risk to children and had sufficient safeguarding knowledge. The appeal was heard by the Tribunal and following consideration of both our client’s and Ofsted’s evidence, the Tribunal agreed that our client did not pose a risk to children. The Tribunal ordered that the suspension be lifted with immediate effect.

In addition to this, our specialist Ofsted lawyers made written representations against Ofsted’s Notice of Intention to cancel our client’s registration as a childminder. Following consideration of the representations, Ofsted confirmed that they would not be proceeding to cancellation of registration. Our client was therefore able to continue working as a childminder without restriction.

Successful appeal against the cancellation of a childminder’s registration

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to act on behalf of a childminder who was subject cancellation proceedings brought by Ofsted. This was as a result of concerns that our client was no longer suitable to remain registered due to individuals within her household, as well as allegations that had been made against our client. Our specialist appealed against Ofsted’s decision to cancel, undertook all preparations prior to the hearing, and represented the childminder at the final appeal hearing before the first-tier Tribunal. Following the consideration of both our client’s and Ofsted’s evidence, the Tribunal agreed that the appeal should be upheld. Our client was able to continue childminding without restriction.

 

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Challenging inspections case studies

Factual accuracy challenge and complaint against an interim inspection of a children’s home

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed by a children’s home in respect of an interim inspection that had resulted in the leadership and management being graded as ‘requires improvement to be good’. The children’s home was concerned that the inspector had not considered all of the available evidence and as such, had graded the home incorrectly.

A factual accuracy challenged was lodged in the first instance, whereby we set out the inaccuracies within the report. The inspectors only agreed to amend one element of the report. A formal complaint was subsequently submitted to Ofsted. Again, we set out the inaccuracies within the report and provided evidence that contradicted the conclusions made. We also raised concerns about the inspectors conduct.

After consideration, Ofsted agreed that not all of the evidence had been appropriately considered by the inspector. The report was amended and the children’s home’s management and leadership grading increased to ‘good’.

Factual accuracy challenge against an inspection

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed to represent a childcare provider who had been inspected and had been downgraded from an overall grading of ‘outstanding’ to ‘inadequate’. The reasons provided during the inspection and within the draft inspection report included concerns that staff had insufficient safeguarding knowledge (including in respect of prevent duty, county lines, and witchcraft), that staff were not confident at identifying gaps in children’s development to plan next steps, and that parent partnerships could be improved. We lodged a factual accuracy challenge on behalf of the nursery. Within that challenge concerns were raised in relation to the process followed, the conduct of the inspector, and the judgments reached. Following the submission of the factual accuracy challenge, Ofsted confirmed that they had decided that the inspection was incomplete because the conduct of the inspection was such that the evidence gathered and recorded could not be relied upon fully to provide a fair and accurate view of the provider, in whole or in part. A second inspection was conducted by a different inspector, and they received an overall grading of ‘good’.

This particular case was commented upon within The Guardian.

Complaint in respect of an inspection grading of a nursery

We were instructed by a nursery with an excellent inspection history who had an undergone an inspection that had resulted in a grading of ‘requires improvement’. The nursery had serious concerns about the conduct and professionalism of the inspector, as well as the processes followed and findings made by the inspector.

We lodged a formal complaint with Ofsted, setting out the concerns that the nursery had and providing evidence to demonstrate that the inspector had made flawed judgements. Ofsted considered the complaint and determined that the evidence gathered did not meet their quality assurance standards and therefore the report would not be published. A new inspection with a different inspector was carried out on an urgent basis, and the nursery retained their ‘outstanding’ grading.

Complaint in respect of a conflict of interest during an inspection

Our Ofsted lawyers were instructed by a nursery that had an inspection history of ‘outstanding’ for several years. However, the nursery had been recently downgraded to ‘good’ at an Ofsted inspection. The nursery had serious concerns about the inspector at the outset of the inspection due to there being a conflict of interest between the inspector and the nursery, and therefore was unable to form fair and non-bias conclusions. The nursery also had concerns about the inspector’s professionalism and conduct throughout the inspection. The nursery had raised their concerns with Ofsted at the time of the inspection, however their concerns were not taken seriously by Ofsted.

The nursery lodged their own complaint to Ofsted initially. Ofsted subsequently agreed to conduct a re-inspection with a different inspector. However, following this inspection it became apparent that not all areas had been re-considered, that the inspector was only collecting ‘additional evidence’, and that conclusions made by the first inspector remained within the inspection report.

We prepared an extensive complaint setting out the concerns with both the first and second inspections. Ofsted considered the complaint and agreed that there was a perceived conflict of interest and therefore the evidence base could not be relied upon. The report was not published, and the nursery was granted a new inspection, with entirely different inspectors.

Nursery re-gained ‘good’ rating following an early re-inspection

We were instructed by a nursery with a consistently good inspection history. The nursery was the subject of a concern driven inspection because of a technical breach of the Early Years Foundation Stage, which resulted in a grading of ‘inadequate’. The breach was accepted by the nursery, however, we sought to persuade Ofsted that this nursery was clearly a good provider, and they should be inspected as early as possible to minimise the impact of the grading. Ofsted agreed to an early re-inspection within three months, rather than the usual six to 12 month period. The nursery regained their ‘good’ grading at the early re-inspection.

Factual accuracy challenge and complaint against a nursery inspection

Our specialist Ofsted lawyers were instructed by a nursery in respect of a full inspection that had resulted in the nursery being graded as ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’ across all areas. The nursery was concerned that the available evidence did not support the gradings given and therefore sought to challenge this.

A factual accuracy challenged was lodged in the first instance, whereby we set out the inaccuracies within the report and the concerns in respect of the judgements reached. The inspector did not uphold the amendments and therefore a formal complaint was subsequently submitted to Ofsted. After consideration of our submissions, Ofsted agreed that the evidence gathered did not support the gradings given in in ‘quality of education’ and ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and they were amended from ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’.

  • 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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Ofsted team reorder

  • Francesca Snape
  • Chloe Parish
  • Laura Hannah
  • Carl Johnson
  • Alison Marriott
  • Paul Loughlin​​
  • Sean Joyce​
  • Elizabeth Groom
  • Jessica Macaulay
  • Cameron Stubbs