Ofsted abandons complaint-driven inspections

By Laura McCardle

| 18 February 2014

Complaints against childcare providers will no longer automatically trigger inspections of settings, Ofsted has confirmed.

Ofsted will no longer routinely inspect childcare settings at the conclusion of compliance investigations

The regulatory body has routinely inspected settings following compliance investigations since changing its inspections process in September 2012.

But now Ofsted has said it will only inspect settings where a compliance issue has been reported when it deems necessary.

A spokesman said: “When we receive a complaint about an early years provision we consider it very carefully.

“We look at each case on its merits, in line with our published risk assessment process, and if we believe it to be necessary we will undertake a full inspection.

“Ofsted will no longer routinely inspect early years provisions at the end of a compliance investigation. Instead we will do this when we believe it is required.”

The move follows a campaign against the complaint-driven inspections by early years professionals, who called for a more “consistent, transparent and fair” relationship with the inspectorate as part of the Ofsted Big Conversation.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, was among those urging Ofsted to revise its inspections process.

She said: “We all want a robust inspection process but the emphasis on a complaint leading to a full inspection was a major concern for our members – it also meant routine inspections were put back for unacceptable lengths of time.

“There is much more benefit to Ofsted and the sector if there is time to stop and think if a full inspection really needs to be carried out when a complaint is made.

“It also means Ofsted can get back to carrying out inspections for nurseries which require improvement.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, also campaigned against complaint-driven inspections.

He said: “Common sense has prevailed and it is positive to see that Ofsted seem to be finally taking notice of the views of the sector.

“It’s vital that any changes to the inspection process are clearly communicated to the sector and we look forward to this new policy being reflected in all relevant Ofsted guidance documents shortly.

“However, while this is clearly a step in the right direction, there is still much to be done to improve current inspection processes.”

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