Education Life

Complaints to Ofsted rise from last year

  • November 18, 2023
  • 2 min read
Complaints to Ofsted rise from last year

Complaints to Ofsted about schools have risen by a quarter last year, though over two in three were deemed not to warrant further investigation. 14,900 complaints were sent to Ofsted about schools this year, its annual report showed. It goes along with the news that schools themselves are seeing a rise in complaints from parents post Covid.
The organisation’s national director for education, Chris Russel, said that it marked an almost 25% increase over the previous year where 12,000 complaints were made. However, fewer than 1% led to a follow-up inspection as over two-thirds did not warrant further investigation. The majority were closed without any investigation.
“While parents should be able to complain to Ofsted if they’ve gone through their school’s internal process and not found a resolution, we know there’s a perception that this increase in complaints is prompting more snap inspections,” Russell said. “I’d like to reassure everyone working in the sector that the need for immediate action is rare and has not increased alongside the number of complaints.”
Of the complaints received, just 16% qualified for investigation, meaning that they raised serious, ‘whole-school’ issues. Ofsted then would either conduct a snap inspection or take the issue into account during its next inspection of that school.
Most complaints were over leadership and management of a school or pupil’s wellbeing. Many, 2,240, contained safeguarding matters. Osted said that it retained the information from around 1,530 complaints for the next scheduled inspections “so the issues can be taken into account.” In just 76 cases, less than 1% of complaints carried out immediate inspections, while 11,400 or 83% of complaints did not qualify for investigation, though they are classed as “open.”
This year saw a rise in complaints as there were 10,300 about schools between the 1st April 2019 until the 31st March 2020, 45% lower than this year. Between 2018-19, a total of 12,200 complaints were made. In both years, fewer than 1% led to snap inspections being conducted.
This comes after warnings from schools and “there are of course times when we decide that a complaint is serious enough to necessitate an immediate inspection,” according to Russel. This included concerns over safety of pupils and staff or if there is any evidence suggesting a “significant decline” in standards. “However, just because we decide to inspect immediately or retain information,” he added, “does not necessarily mean that there is a problem at the school.”

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