Many thanks to the 73 parents who took part in our survey on changes to Ofsted's complaints handling process.
We put the survey out in response to the schools inspectorate in England's consultation on changes to post-inspection processes and complaints handling. This ensures that parent voice is heard before Ofsted changes the way it does things.
What did parents say?
We asks parents a specific set of questions so that we could make an evidence-based response to the issues Ofsted were consulting on. We found that:
- Parents tended to agree that all schools should be given 5 working days to respond to a draft inspection report. Currently, schools only have one working day to respond to Ofsted (except for those being placed in a category of concern, which are granted five days), and the inspectorate is considering extending this to five days for all schools. Almost two thirds (64%) of our respondents agreed with this proposal, but a third (33%) did not agree. Parentkind believes that an extension to five days gives schools longer to make a considered response, with the opportunity to gather parental opinion about the inspection, so we answered in favour of the change.
- Parents agree that Ofsted should consider and respond to a school's formal complaint about an inspection before the report is published. Overall, 77% of our respondents were in favour of the change, and more than half (52%) strongly agreed with it. A small minority of 17% disagreed (out of which 14% strongly disagreed). Respondents raised the concern that it would be too late for the parent community to disagree with a report once it has been issued. We agree that parents want to use Ofsted reports as a reliable indicator of a school's merits, and they should have input where they feel the report is not an accurate reflection of the school. Our earlier research has shown that there is a gap between the high numbers of parents who use Ofsted reports to find out about a school, and their trust in the reliability of the reports as a fair judgement on schools. Parents having a say on draft inspection reports is one way to close the gap.
- Parents support the independent scrutiny panel that mediates when schools raise a complaint about an inspection. 81% of respondents agreed that current arrangements should stay in place rather than be axed, where almost two thirds (63%) strongly agreed. 12% neither agreed nor disagreed, and 5% strongly disagreed (1% did not know). Parents have told us in previous research that they value the inspectorate's independence.
- Most parents would value having the opportunity to use Parent View to feed back about their school's inspection. Responding to an additional question we asked, an overwhelming 88% answered 'yes' to the proposition, where 7% said 'no' and the rest were undecided. We suggested that our Blueprint for parent-friendly schools can be used by school leaders to gather parental opinion during the inspection process, which can be presented to Ofsted as part of the school's response. This would ensure that parents are acknowledged and heard as a major stakeholder in education during a visit from Ofsted. One parent suggested that Ofsted should routinely seek parental feedback on school performance to achieve a better understanding of its merits.
As a fundamental part of any school, the parent community can provide valuable feedback on how they view their school's inspection report, and the school's culture in general, especially in the event of the school raising a complaint. We hope that Ofsted takes on board the feedback from parents and makes changes in accordance with them.
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries out our research.
See our consultations page for more details of responses we have made to government departments and educational organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.