DfE launches £100k tender to independently review complaints against Ofsted

DfE launches £100k tender to independently review complaints against Ofsted

The Department for Education has this week started the hunt for an organisation to review complaints made against Ofsted.

The three year contract is valued at £100,000 and will run from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2020, something an Ofsted spokesperson told Schools Week is “a routine retendering by the DfE for providing Ofsted’s existing independent adjudication process.”

The move follows a Judicial Review lost by Ofsted, after the Durand Academy challenged their inspection and the way their subsequent complaint was dealt with by the inspectorate.

Earlier this month, the judge who oversaw the case concluded that the lack of opportunity to “effectively challenge” the report rendered Ofsted’s complaints procedures unfair, which, he said, “in my judgment vitiates the report”.

At the time Ofsted responded to the judgment by saying: “Our complaints process is longstanding and has previously been commended by the independent adjudicator,” said a spokesperson.

“However, as an organisation we always keep policies and practices under review and regardless of the outcome of the appeal application will consider whether any clarification of our complaints procedure may be required.”

Tender information seen by Schools Week states: “The Department for Education require a supplier to provide an independent adjudication service in relation to Ofsted’s handling of complaints including: handling individual complaints, the provision of advice, regular reporting regarding the volume and nature of the complaint and publication of an annual report.

“The successful supplier shall be required to review Ofsted’s handling of individual complaints where the complainant remains dissatisfied after Ofsted’s internal complaints process has been exhausted and offer written impartial findings and recommendations to complainants and the chief inspector.

“The adjudication service is independent of Ofsted and the conclusions and the recommendations of the service provider are independent of both DfE and Ofsted.”

Interested organisations have less than a month to respond, as the deadline for applications is September 28, 2017.