December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
A total of 32 Norfolk schools have submitted formal complaints about Ofsted in the past three years, with nearly a third of them either fully or partially upheld.
The figure compares to 29 Suffolk schools making similar complaints during the same period, and 22 in Cambridgeshire, according to the results of a freedom of information request by the EDP. In both counties, five complaints were upheld.
Of the 83 complaints across the three counties, 58 concerned an aspect of the judgment on their school, while 35 were about an administrative aspect and 27 about the conduct of an inspection.
The number of complaints in Norfolk peaked at 14 in 2011-12, and fell to 11 between September 2012 and June 2013, a period when Ofsted targeted the county for an intense period of school inspections.
Some school leaders said they were surprised there had not been more complaints.
Colin Goffin, assistant headteacher at Benjamin Britten High School in Lowestoft, said the reason could be that “the chances of a complaint being upheld are so slim school leaders have decided not to try”, or alternatively that judgments are now being seen as more accurate, which was his experience following his school’s recent Ofsted report.
Some headteachers, who did not want to be named, said that while they had concerns about inspections at their schools, they had not filed official complaints because of a “culture of fear”, or a lack of confidence in how Ofsted would deal with their comments.
One Norfolk headteacher said: “I am not surprised schools are reluctant to complain about Ofsted. There is a fear that they will be perceived of as “whinging” or “not willing to face up to the issues’ even when they have a legitimate concern about the inspection.
“I think headteachers are also resigned to the iniquities of the whole Ofsted process. They do not believe that a complaint will change anything.”
Another said: “My initial response is that people are frightened to oppose Ofsted and complain about them for fear of what might happen.
“Ofsted holds all the power and can easily put a school into special measures if they choose.
“For many schools, a quiet acceptance of a disappointing grade is ‘safer’ than complaining and risking a downward re-grade. There is too much fear in the system at the moment.”
An Ofsted spokesman said: “Ofsted takes all complaints very seriously, investigating each one rigorously on a case-by-case basis.
“If any person has a complaint about Ofsted they can contact us at any time. Details about our complaints process can be found at: www.ofsted.gov.uk.”