The Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted (ICASO) is entirely independent of Ofsted and can be accessed once a Complainant has exhausted the Ofsted internal complaints procedure and remains dissatisfied with Ofsted’s handling of that complaint.

An ICASO Adjudicator will be appointed upon receipt of an application to ICASO. The Adjudicator will investigate the manner in which Ofsted dealt with the complaint in question and provide advice and recommendations to improve Ofsted's systems and practices for dealing with complaints.

The Adjudicator's recommendations may include methods for addressing failings both particular to a complaint or generally to improve complaint handling procedures.

Any recommendations made by the ICASO Adjudicator will not be binding upon Ofsted. However, if Ofsted declines to comply with the recommendations, they must state explicitly their reasons for doing so.

The Adjudicator can investigate complaints into:

  • failure to follow procedures;
  • failure to respond in a timely manner;
  • alleged discrimination;
  • alleged discourtesy;
  • failure to apologise or accept mistakes; and
  • inspector/staff conduct.

The ICASO Adjudicator cannot investigate complaints into:

  • issues relating to government policy or legislation; and
  • issues where there are clear rights of appeal through a Court or Tribunal.

The Adjudicator cannot overturn the Ofsted Inspectors' judgements nor can the Adjudicator award any financial damages or compensation.

The Procedure

Ofsted will write to a complainant when their complaints process is exhausted. The Complainant may then apply to ICASO.

  • For an application to be considered the complainant must contact ICASO within three months of receipt of its details from Ofsted at the end of the internal complaints process.
  • The complainant may contact ICASO with any enquiries on how to make an application as long as the application is in scope (i.e. within three months of the final stage of Ofsted’s complaints procedure).
  • Applications must be made on the prescribed Application Form with all accompanying documents to be submitted as evidence attached.
  • Upon receipt of the application, ICASO will contact Ofsted to ensure that the complainant has exhausted their internal process.
  • Upon receipt of this confirmation, an Adjudicator will be appointed by ICASO and details of the appointment will be confirmed to both Ofsted and the Complainant within 48 hours.
  • The letter to Ofsted will include a copy of the application (including supporting evidence) and request a summary of the complaint process from Ofsted within 20 working days.
  • The Ofsted summary will be sent to ICASO who will send this to the complainant and Adjudicator.
  • The complainant will be given five working days to submit any comments on the Ofsted summary. Comments must be limited to observations about the summary and cannot include any new information.
  • Ofsted will then be able to comment on the complainant’s comments (within five working days). This will be sent to the Adjudicator and the complainant will be sent these comments for their reference.
  • Upon receipt of all comments (if any) the Adjudicator will consider all documentation and evidence and will issue a written report within 25 working days.

Please note that Ofsted is not obliged to comply with the recommendations but if they do not do so they must inform the Adjudicator of their decision and explain their reasons for not complying.

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