They say they are confidential, and I want to be honest, but I am a bit worried about reprisals. I have serious issues with the school leadership. I don't want my children to be disadvanted if I express them, though. They are already singled out in a negative way by the head teacher, with whom I cannot see eye to eye.
If you put it in a sealed envelope and address it to the Ofsted Team it should be handed directly to them. Heads and Teachers have absolutely no right to look at them and (in our school) no one would dream of it!
I remember reading the Ofsted report at the school my dc were at previously and being really at the positive comments, thinking "Who are these people?". Turns out selected parents had been approached, often by 'phone, and urged to express their positive support of the school.
I agree that they should be only for the Ofsted team but I wouldn't our head not to look at them.
Once, the governors asked parents to fill out a questionnaire. I put it in the box, thinking the Gov's would read them but was then called in by the head to discuss the points I covered. I realised that before giving them to the gov's, she had read them and dealt with any 'negative' things herself!!!
I was fuming. She belittled my points and said nothing would be taken further (unless I wanted to put it in writing - I thought that's what I had done??!). She was a dragon protecting her right to rule the school and I've never trusted her since.
I wrote something negative on the Ofsted questionaire so was somewhat surprised to find in the end of instpection report that "all the comments made were positive". Having discussed it with someone else they had written an almost identical negative comment. I concluded they hadn't bothered reading the questionaires.
Ofsted do take note of anything that is in the parental questionnaire but they also have to take a view of what they find in the school. So if the parents say discipline is a problem and during the inspection the discipline is good then I would expect a comment that whilst there were some parental concerns over discipline, discipline was good during the inspection. The attitude and management of the school is a bit more difficult unless they get a very negative set of parental replies, but they should during the extensive grilling of the head be talking about their realtionship with children, staff and parents.
Ofsted read every response given by parents at our recent inspection (I am parent governor), and fed back to the senior management team. Specific comments were quoted, and because of the nature of the comments, it was often very obvious who had written them although names were not given. The head and senior management team did not read them themselves, and nor did we governors. Comments were overwhelmingly positive, but where there were issues flagged up they were discussed, and in most cases the head was able to recall incidents parents were referring to, and was able to discuss them with the inspectors in context.
So yes, they are confidential, but if your issues are obviously related to you alone, then the SMT will be aware of your comments.