Ofsted Implements Changes To Post-Inspection Process After Public Consultation

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Ofsted Implements Changes To Post-Inspection Process After Public Consultation

Key Contact: Jenny Wilde

Author: Jenny Wilde

It’s been a difficult year for Ofsted. This week (27 November 2023) an inquest into the death of Ruth Perry, a headteacher who died shortly after her school was inspected by the regulator, will open in Berkshire.

Ms Perry died in January 2023 – her family believe that she took her own life before the publication of an Ofsted report rating her school, Caversham Primary, ‘Inadequate’.

The regulator has faced criticism in the wake of Ms Perry’s sad passing and the matter has opened public debate around Ofsted inspections and the way that Ofsted’s representatives interact with school staff during and after inspections. As a consequence of that criticism, Ofsted undertook a public consultation on some proposed improvements to the post-inspection process.

Ofsted has now announced that based on the responses to the consultation, four changes to the process will be implemented.

The proposed changes are:

  1. Enhanced on-site professional dialogue during inspections to help address any issues.
  2. A new opportunity for providers to contact Ofsted the day after an inspection if they have unresolved concerns.
  3. New arrangements for finalising reports and considering formal challenges to inspection outcomes.
  4. Direct escalation to the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted (ICASO) and a periodic review of closed complaints using external representatives.

The consultation, which ran from 12 June to 15 September 2023 received over 1,500 responses, an increase of over 150% from the consultation Ofsted ran in 2020 on the same subject. Responses were received from providers in all the sectors that Ofsted inspects and regulates.

There was strong support for all 4 proposals. Over 80% of respondents were in favour of proposals 1,2 and 4, and just under 80% of respondents were in favour of proposal 3.

The proposals will come into effect in 2 phases:

Proposals 1 and 2 will come into effect in January 2024. Ofsted will provide all inspectors with guidance on developing and formalising the enhanced professional dialogue essential for successful inspections. At the same time, Ofsted will let providers know that they can contact Ofsted with any unresolved issues on the working day after the end of the inspection.

Proposals 3 and 4 will come into effect in April 2024. When providers receive their draft report, they will be able to highlight minor points of clarity or factual accuracy, or raise a formal complaint to seek a review of the inspection findings and judgements awarded.

Interestingly, Ofsted will also remove the current internal review step in its complaints process. From April, if complainants are concerned that Ofsted has not correctly followed its complaints-handling process, they will be able to escalate their concerns directly to the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted (ICASO). Ofsted will also introduce the periodic reviews of closed cases at this point.

Many will argue that these changes are minor and are unlikely to change the inspection experience but the sector will be watching closely and keen to test the changes should they be unhappy with an inspection’s outcome.

It will also remain to be seen whether the coroner in Ruth Perry’s case makes any comment on the inspection process and whether or not the new changes will be viewed favourably.

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