New Ofsted guidance on 'flawed' inspections

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Ofsted has published revised guidance for providers on how it decides if inspections are 'flawed' and the subsequent action taken.

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Ofsted's revised guidance explains the procedure to be followed when an inspection is considered 'flawed'

The document - ‘Flawed inspections - Ofsted-related protocol’, explains how Ofsted determines whether an inspection is ‘flawed’ and needs to be deemed ‘incomplete’, and if so what steps are taken.

Examples of when an inspection may be considered ‘flawed’, it says, include where ‘key judgements that might affect the overall outcome of the inspection are given orally by the lead inspector at final feedback to the provider or stated in the written report, and are not substantiated by the evidence gathered and recorded by the inspection team.’

Another example is where evidence gathered and recorded during the inspection cannot be relied upon to provide a ‘fair and accurate’ view of the provider, or where the inspector or inspection team has not gathered ‘sufficient evidence’ or ‘evidence of sufficient quality’.

The revised guidance states that when the regional director decides an inspection is ‘flawed’, steps will be taken to secure the ‘evidence base’, which could mean a further visit to the provider.

If an inspection is deemed to be ‘flawed’ after a report has been published, Ofsted may decide to issue a revised report.

It goes on to say that if information or significant evidence about a published inspection comes to light more than six months after the date of publication, the report will remain on the Ofsted website.

The publication of the revised guidance follows an ongoing campaign by the sector about the early years inspection system.

As part of the Ofsted Big Conversation campaign, an open meeting will take place in the North East region on 14 January in County Durham to help set the agenda for the first steering group meeting with Ofsted in February.

Catriona Nason, managing director of Daycare Doctor, who set up the Ofsted Big Conversation website, said, ‘The revised Ofsted guidance gives the sector some hope that their voices are finally being heard.

‘Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw tells us that too many providers are not good enough. The sector’s response is that the inspection system is not good enough and requires improvement. Mr Wilshaw has created an Ofsted department which is even less accountable whilst raising the stakes for providers.’

She added, ‘The Ofsted Big Conversation was set up to offer a platform for the sector to share their concerns and most importantly to develop solutions to the Ofsted problem. Ofsted responded sensibly to the sector and talks were undertaken. There is now room for optimism that the sector and the regulator can form a reciprocal and mutually respectful relationship that will enhance quality and compliance.'

  • See Nursery World's Linkedin group for updates on Ofsted Big Conversation meetings