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complaints to schools and Oftsted - anyone know?

(18 Posts)
advicewantedplease Tue 15-Nov-16 10:04:39

I need to complain to my dc's school about various things.

Does anyone know if Ofsted automatically see written complaints that have been sent in? And if so, is this all complaints, or only those emails (or letters) that have been labelled as complaints (ie in the subject line of the email)?

I'm worried that what I have to say would cause the school to fail an Ofsted inspection on its own (it's pretty horrendous) and don't want to be responsible for that. (At least not until the school has had a chance to sort it out.) At the same time, I really do need the subject matter of the complaint to be dealt with.

Can anyone advise the best way to approach the school with this?

perditalost Tue 15-Nov-16 10:27:36

No. Ofsted only take on qualifying complaints. They may or may not see the complaints as part of an inspection.

You need to go through the schools complaint procedure which must be displayed on their website.

user1479205581 Tue 15-Nov-16 10:31:05

As above. OFSTEDs function is to inspect schools and assess standards. Complaints, or more particularly level and how resolved, may be looked at briefly as part of assessing the school but are not within OFSTEDS remit to deal with.

Follow the published complaints procedure - usually head - governors - local authority/secretary of state.

FATEdestiny Tue 15-Nov-16 10:39:47

what I have to say would cause the school to fail an Ofsted inspection on its own

An unsubstantiated claims is nothing more than a 'he said, she said' complaint. You might be shocked at the number of complaints some schools get that are wholly malicious. So a complaint in itself w/o t be taken at face value.

Firstly you need to put your complaint in writing to The Head. Give it the heading "complaint" so there is no doubt that you want it keeping on file as a complaint.

Then let the complaints procedure roll through. This may a meeting, involve information gathering and investigation before you get an outcome.

ElizabethBennettismybestfriend Tue 15-Nov-16 10:42:55

You can fill in a Parent View questionnaire which will be on the school's website. Ofsted look at these before an inspection and at least it gives you the chance to suggest that everything is not wonderful.

advicewantedplease Tue 15-Nov-16 12:07:01

Thanks all.

When I say the complaint might make it fail Ofsted, we're talking lots of issues not just one. And very well substantiated ie not just my opinion.

But good to know that I can complain without worrying that I will be blamed for any fallout from Ofsted.

Notenoughsleepmumof3 Tue 15-Nov-16 12:36:28

The complaints process is a long one. And you can only complain directly to Ofsted if you have made a formal complaint on the same matter and do not feel it has been resolved.

Wolfiefan Tue 15-Nov-16 12:37:52

You need to follow the school complaints procedure. Ofsted doesn't exist to deal with parent complaints.

Thatwaslulu Tue 15-Nov-16 12:41:55

The complaints procedure at the school must have three stages, the final of which must be a panel including a person not involved in the running of the school. If you have progressed through all stages and are not satisfied, if you believe your complaint has not been correctly administered you can complain to the DFE but they will only be able to adjudicate on the process not the outcome. You can forward it to Ofsted but again they will not be able to do.anything unless the full school complaint procedure has been followed. Keep an paper trail of your complaint and back up any assertions with links to evidence.

advicewantedplease Tue 15-Nov-16 13:22:35

Wolfiefan - I wasn't suggesting complaining to Ofsted.

My point was that I wanted to know whether or not Ofsted would see the complaints I'd written to the school when they visit. Because if that was the case, it might make me put my complaint in speech rather than writing, so as not to land the school right in it.

I wasn't suggesting I was thinking of making a complaint directly to Ofsted - I know they don't deal with complaints directly.

Notenoughsleepmumof3 Tue 15-Nov-16 13:43:31

Ofsted won't see it either way unless it is brought to them through the complaints procedure. Schools and governors can bury it and if the school seems successful on paper Ofsted won't go looking for it. Also, regarding safe-guarding with Ofsted, having gone through this process, if it is violence within the school, they will say it should be a police matter and doesn't fall under them because they are looking at the quality of the education. However, I would argue that children not feeling safe in the school because of repeated violence will most certainly effecting their learning. The system isn't designed to help the parents. It protects the management of the school and therefore doesn't help the students, IME.

Wolfiefan Tue 15-Nov-16 13:47:08

Sorry. My misunderstanding. I don't think they see it. If they do then they would probably mainly be concerned with the response of the school.
I have never had to put anything in writing to the school. Always been a verbal thing.

Notenoughsleepmumof3 Tue 15-Nov-16 14:21:59

Verbal carries zero weight. Most things can be addressed by speaking to the teacher but, if it is a serious concern or complaint it is always best to at least put it in an email so there is a written trail. You have to have proof that you have raised an issue and that they addressed your concern with a response. You will need that proof to make a formal complaint with the Head/Governors and you will need that to make a complaint to Ofsted or the LEA.

Thatwaslulu Tue 15-Nov-16 15:11:19

Dependent upon the type of failing you are complaining about, there is some currency in forwarding the complaint on to Ofsted after following the complaints procedure in full. If it's a governance or safeguarding issue, for example, Ofsted will contact the DfE and speak to them about whether it meets the criteria for further investigation. If the DfE have lots of individual complaints about the same school, they do tend to investigate as it flags as a risk. Alternatively if you think that whatever has happened could meet the seriousness to prohibit a teacher from the profession you could read the referral guidance for teachers misconduct on the NCTL website.

Rainbowcolours1 Tue 15-Nov-16 18:45:16

If it relates in any way to safeguarding you can complain directly to Ofsted and the school will never know it was you. I too thought that a complaint had to have gone through the school's complaints procedure before being escalated to Ofsted but evidently that isn't the case.
How do I know...I'm a head and we had a no notice safeguarding inspection, they ring and turn up fifteen minutes later. All we could be told is that it was as the result of a parental complaint. In four years as head at the school we have no formal complaints and had had no safeguarding issues. We came out of the inspection very well but have no idea who or what triggered it and have no idea what the complaint was about other than it must have linked to safeguarding.

advicewantedplease Tue 15-Nov-16 23:23:48

Interesting, Rainbowcolours1. Yes, there are serious safeguarding concerns. How long ago was this?

Wish my dc's school was like yours - you sound a great head.

Rainbowcolours1 Wed 16-Nov-16 06:41:58

This year!

bojorojo Wed 16-Nov-16 13:41:55

The Ofsted Inspection Handbook available other web site tells you how qualifying complaints are considered by Ofsted and what information they will consider when they visit. If it is Safeguarding, you can complain to Ofsted, as described above, but why can you not aproach the Safeguarding Teacher or Governor before you write to Ofsted? Has the school had a chance to respond to your complaints? Ofsted has a large section on how they inspect Safeguarding in the Handbook, so I would take the time to read it and understand what they can, and cannot, inspect.

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