Ofsted extends post-inspection and complaints consultation

An Ofsted consultation that includes plans to withhold inspection reports until complaints are resolved has been extended by four weeks.

The ‘changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling: proposed improvements’ call for evidence was launched on 3 March and had a deadline of 31 March.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the watchdog announced this morning that schools, colleges, training providers and other stakeholders will now have until 30 April.

Earlier this month, Ofsted suspended routine inspections and the publication of inspection reports until further notice.

In an FE Week webinar last week, the inspectorate’s deputy director for FE and skills Paul Joyce said this was because they are “well aware providers have enough to deal with”.

He added that Ofsted will have “do the right thing” as its mantra going forward.

Included in this consultation are plans to withhold publication of inspection reports until the inspectorate has resolved complaints about them.

It proposes that formal complaints raised by providers within two working days of receiving their final report will effectively delay publication of the report until the complaint is dealt with.

Under the current system, providers have to submit formal complaints within 10 days of an issue of concern, but Ofsted does not normally withhold publication of reports while it considers complaints.

The watchdog’s consultation admits the current approach has led to it having to take action after it has published a report “when a complaint investigation highlights an error in the inspection process”.

The consultation also proposes that providers will receive five working days to review their draft report and submit concerns about issues of “factual accuracy and the inspection process”. At the moment, they only receive one, but some other types of provider get longer.

Ofsted also wants to introduce “greater consistency” in post-inspection arrangements.

A new timeline will mean that all providers “should expect to see their draft report within 18 working days of the end of their inspection”, and Ofsted will aim to issue all final reports to providers “within 30 working days of the end of the inspection”.

The current system of internal reviews, which are the last step for those not satisfied with the way their complaint has been handled, will be retained.