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Can I complain to Ofsted? How?

(16 Posts)
Laura223939 Fri 14-Oct-16 10:42:58

I saw recently that Ofsted were inspecting the SEN services in another part of the country, but I can't find anywhere on their website a place I can actually lodge a complaint about my local SA team, who have acted unprofessionally, unethically and illegally while dealing with DS's case.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? Much appreciated.

6demandingchildren Fri 14-Oct-16 10:44:56

First write a letter to the head, then to the governing body and then to the department of education. Then they will instruct ofsted

Laura223939 Fri 14-Oct-16 10:57:34

DS doesn't have a head or a governing body as he is at nursery. Should have been more specific, sorry - I have no complaints about his educational setting, only the handling of his EHCP.

It's been issued with only a type of placement named, the wrong type, and despite two special schools saying yes at consultation and the mainstream saying no, the SA service will not name either of them. They have him on an illegal waiting list until Sept 2017 and will then dish out places on a "priority basis". DS is already five and can only stay at his nursery until Christmas.

uggerthebugger Fri 14-Oct-16 11:57:36

Two ways of doing this:

- Email the complaint to their general poi T of contact with the public - it's enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

- Find who your Ofsted regional director is, and email the complaint to him/her. Details at the bottom of here: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

When complaining, bear in mind the following:

- Ofsted won't act on individual complaints. They might file away your complaint as evidence when inspecting your local area in the future. Or they might not.

- Ofsted have patchy expertise when it comes to SEN, & even less when it comes to what local authorities get up to. Their in-house specialist inspectors get less than 3 days training on SEN structures & law - less than the foundation level of IPSEA training

- To add to the fun, not every Ofsted SEN inspector who will look at your complaint works for Ofsted. Most are working on contract as an occasional break from their day job. And that day job is running SEN services in local authorities.

So if you complain, & Ofsted don't seem to 'get' your complaint, this is why.

Laura223939 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:13:04

Thank you, ugger. How depressing. I'll do it anyway because it will be cathartic.

Can you think of anyone/anywhere I should complain to? Preferably somewhere effectual!

amunt Fri 14-Oct-16 18:22:51

I'm having the same problem. There is just no accountability. I'm meeting with my MP next week. It won't make any difference, but I want to ask, "Do you think it's OK that a public body does this?" "So, what are you going to do to make them stop?" Also, keep writing to Department of Education until they answer.

tartanterror Fri 14-Oct-16 20:56:58

If you think that the LA may have "maladministered" your DS' EHCP then you should look at the Local Government Ombudsman's website and see if you meet the criteria for their complaints process. It needs to be within 12 months of the problem and it has to be about the LA (not the school). If there has been a loss suffered by your DS as a result of their actions, they can award costs. Eg people who had to commission their own EP report to convince the LA to do an EHC needs assessment, were reimbursed

Laura223939 Fri 14-Oct-16 21:08:37

Oh, amunt that's exactly how I feel. They are a law unto themselves.

I've emailed my MP too but not holding out a lot of hope as heard he's a bit of a twunt. I didn't vote for him!

I have put in an official complaint to the council and also sent messages to the department of education. Pretty sure no one will care or listen though.

Laura223939 Fri 14-Oct-16 21:13:53

Thanks tartan. I have looked at the LGO and they said I need to try the council complaints route first, but after that I will definitely try them.

As I mentioned upthread, there's no school and my complaint is purely about the LA, who have definitely broken the law.

tartanterror Fri 14-Oct-16 21:19:50

So your LA will have a complaints policy which says it can reply to you in x-ty weeks or some nonsense. I think LGO says you should expect the LA to respond and act within 12 weeks after which you can go to them - so don't get sidetracked there.... so many ways to get distracted aren't there?

amunt Fri 14-Oct-16 22:49:54

That's just the problem. The council say you are not eligible to use the complaints service because you have the right to appeal. And the LA ombudsman said he could not accept the complaint for the same reason. And my complaint about the ombudsman's decision got the same answer. So your only way of complaining is to spend, in our case, £10,000 on an appeal. Even when you win as 86% do, the LA lose nothing and continue as before, having saved themselves 6 months funding. Aaaagh!

tartanterror Sun 16-Oct-16 11:18:08

OK can we summarise? Ofsted may not be right and you have time limits to bear in mind...

So you have got to final EHCP stage with your LA for your DS in nursery. You think a special school would be best suited but the LA have not included your preference. They have put only a type of school without being specific. Annoyingly 2 schools have said they could take him. You are now stuck in limbo without a named placement. You have complained to the LA but haven't appealed to SENDIST because you are worried about cost? Your question is what to do now?!

Have I got it roughly right?
When did the final EHCP get issued?

You only have 2 months to lodge an appeal.

Why do you think it will cost £10k?

Laura223939 Mon 17-Oct-16 12:05:15

That pretty much sums it up, except the LA panel agreed that the SS would be a good placement too, but instead of naming it for now or Sept 2017 with something else in place between Christmas and then, they have DS on an illegal waiting list which won't be prioritised until Sept 2017 when he will maybe be given a place. Final EHCP was issued on 4th October.

I too have heard appeals can be costly. Solicitors, expert reports etc. Everyone I have spoken to think the LA would be mad not to give us an SS as they would never win on appeal. We have a ton of evidence that DS does not cope in a crowded classroom, but worried that all the people who gave this evidence would be called to testify against us.

At the moment, no one there is speaking to me. We have a meeting later this week (set before the EHCP was issued) so I am hoping we can resolve something then. If not, I will start the appeal process straight away.

tartanterror Mon 17-Oct-16 18:54:35

Good luck with your meeting. It does sound like you are completely on top of things.

Have you looked at advocacy instead of solicitors to reduce costs?
here
or here
or here?

As you have an EHCP will you need expert opinion or extra reports. In law surely the argument about whether an EHCP is required and what provision has already been settled. That's the difficult bit already done?

Your appeal is on the basis of the illegal lack of named placement and your request for a specific school? Assuming you also have correspondence which shows that your DS would be accepted by the school, I can't see that the LA have a legal leg to stand on.

After you win, then take them to the LGO for maladministration resulting in delay and your costs. Assuming that your son will be without placement after Xmas the LGO might consider his loss and award costs on that too if you have to hire in daycare etc.

Good luck - it sounds like you have a good clear case unlike many of the rest of us Go for it!

Laura223939 Mon 17-Oct-16 20:26:02

tartan I could kiss you!

You don't know how much better you have made me feel. When you put it all like that, it seems very clear cut.

This is what I've been boggling at - I can't understand how they can possibly justify themselves in saying a mainstream school is a reasonable placement. The ms they consulted said they couldn't meet his needs. They themselves have agreed that the ss is a good match - what are they playing at?

I think they may be playing for time so they can consult a million more mainstreams in the town to hope that one says yes. Can they do that without telling me?

The code of practice says they should name our preference unless it would be detrimental to others at the school or is an inefficient use of resources. I think if they are hoping to get a yes from an ms they will go down the latter route, but I don't know if they can just endlessly consult schools like that?

I have emails from the special schools in question and from various people at the LA confirming all of this, including all the times they broke the law in an attempt to deny his provision.

I also have a brilliant advocate already on board - she's a force to be reckoned with. Didn't know I could do tribunal without a solicitor, so that's great!

Phew! Fingers crossed for the meeting on Weds, will let you know how it goes.

tartanterror Mon 17-Oct-16 22:50:40

Yes please let me know. My fingers are crossed for you!

I may need the details for your advocate at some point.... I'm about to send off our EHCP application and as DS isn't failing academically I'm expecting it might take a lot of persistence on my part!

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