Ofsted plans to withhold inspection reports until complaints are resolved

Ofsted will withhold publication of inspection reports until it has resolved complaints about them under a new redress system proposed by the inspectorate.

A consultation launched today proposes that formal complaints raised by schools 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, schools 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.

Today the watchdog admitted 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”.

“As a result, we are proposing to consider and respond to formal complaints from inspected providers before we publish their inspection report, if these complaints are submitted promptly,” the watchdog said in its consultation documents.

“So that the publication of a report is not overly delayed, if an inspected provider wants to raise a formal complaint, they will need to submit this within two working days of them being issued with their final report. If an inspected provider submits a formal complaint within this period, we will withhold publication of the inspection report until we have considered and responded to the complaint.”

However, complaints will not “normally” be considered outside of this deadline, because the submission will be deemed to be ‘out of time’, Ofsted said.

The consultation also proposes that schools 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.

The extended period “will allow all inspected providers the same opportunity to raise any issues of factual inaccuracy in their draft report, or to comment on any aspect of the inspection process”.

“We will consider all submitted comments before we issue the final inspection report to a provider.”

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.