OFSTED 'prompt' on complaints

11th September 1998 at 01:00
It is unfortunate that Frances Rafferty's article on my role as Office for Standards in Education complaints adjudicator (TES, July 17) reported my discussions with the House of Commons education select committee out of context. Your readers may have been misled.

For example, according to Ms Rafferty's article, I told the committee that OFSTED placed barriers to complainants who were deterred from pursuing complaints because of the length of time it took.

OFSTED has a two-stage complaints procedure and complaints can only be made to me when those stages have been exhausted.

In any area, pursuing a complaint is time-consuming and some complaints are not followed up because of this. It may be that some teachers and others will be deterred from complaining for this reason. The point I made to the committee was that because of its statutory role as regulator of the inspection system, OFSTED is likely to be particularly responsive to complaints which suggest that an inspector is incompetent or an inspection inadequate. My initial impression of the few complaints I have reviewed is that OFSTED's responses have generally been prompt and detailed, although I can see areas where investigations might have been done differently. When asked by the committee for my overall view of OFSTED's complaints work, my comment was "assiduous".

It is true that only a small number of cases proceed to the second stage of OFSTED's complaints investigation and presumably a small number will reach me. I will certainly be alert to any procedural barriers which may deter people from pursuing a complaint against OFSTED.

Elaine Rassaby

The OFSTED complaints adjudicator 50 Canonbury Park South London N1

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