ASCL welcomes this important consultation. Reforming the complaints process and post-inspection arrangements was one of ASCL’s recommendations in our Future of Inspection
discussion paper, shared with Ofsted and other stakeholders in January 2023.
We strongly support all four proposals set out in this consultation. We believe they will have a significant impact on school and college leaders’ experience of inspection. In particular, the ability for providers to raise concerns about a report or an inspection earlier, and through a number of routes, is most welcome.
ASCL members often report their frustration that they cannot raise these concerns with Ofsted until they have the draft report. The changes proposed would address many of these concerns.
Likewise, the ability to escalate concerns directly to ICASO is welcome, although we note that ICASO does not have the authority to overturn a judgement. This means that, in effect, Ofsted is still ‘marking its own homework’ to some degree, although these proposals would make the process more transparent. The proposal for providers to speak to an inspector the day after the inspection, who was not on the inspection team itself, will help provide some additional impartiality.
However, while welcome, we do not think that the proposals go far enough. ASCL members often comment that the feedback they get following a complaint that is not upheld is minimal, and often several detailed complaints are amalgamated into one response. Moreover, often the response refers to the ‘evidence base’, without directly citing from it, and without the provider being able to see that evidence base, or be able to fact-check it.
Full response to consultation