Ofsted confirms shake-up of redress system – but will give providers longer to complain

Ofsted has confirmed it will proceed with a shake-up of the redress system for inspections, but will give providers five working days to complain, rather than two.

The watchdog has published the outcome to its consultation on changes to complaints, which was launched in March.

The consultation proposed that formal complaints raised by education providers within two working days of receiving their final report would 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, and Ofsted does not normally withhold publication of reports while it considers complaints.

But Ofsted proposed changes after admitting 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”.

However, in its response to the consultation, Ofsted said it had “taken on board comments stating that two working days is not sufficient time to submit a formal complaint”, and said it “decided to extend the period for providers to submit a complaint to five working days from when we issue them with the final report”.

The plan for Ofsted to consider and respond to formal complaints from inspected providers before it publishes their inspection report will be taken forward, as will a proposal to give providers 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.

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, as proposed in the consultation.

Ofsted said the responses to its consultation had been “very positive”. Of the further education and skills providers that responded, 89 per cent agreed with the proposal to give them five working days to review draft reports for accuracy, and 83 per cent agreed with the proposal to delay the publication of reports until after complaints are resolved.

Sixty one per cent agreed with the proposal to retain current internal review system.

Ofsted said retaining the current system “will continue to provide important challenge, independence, transparency and an insight into our complaints-handling process”.