Ofsted and complaints

Though Ofsted has the authority to perform an investigation if a complaint has been made, it will usually only do this if the complaint is deemed to be serious enough to warrant an investigation and if the provider’s complaints procedure has already been followed.

Its policies regarding dealing with complaints differ when dealing with state schools, private schools and early years education and childcare providers.

In general terms, due to Ofsted being a government organisation, it is likely to be more involved when complaints are made about institutions and services that are state-owned rather than private.

What Ofsted does

Ofsted is responsible for inspecting educational institutions and providers of childcare, including adoption and fostering agencies as well as nurseries, pre-schools and other forms of early years care.

It publishes regular reports of its inspections, which include findings and recommendations that have a significant influence on policymaking in education.

In addition to regular inspections, Ofsted also performs investigations into institutions and services following a complaint or concerns raised.  

Elsewhere in the UK

Ofsted operates throughout England, but is not the regulatory or inspecting body for the rest of the UK. 

The equivalent functions are carried out by the following organisations across the UK:

Wales:  Estyn

Scotland:  Education Scotland

Northern Ireland:  The Education and Training Inspectorate

Early years complaints

For early years childcare and education, Ofsted is more likely to investigate complaints that relate to an entire service rather than individual complaints affecting only a single child. 

For example, if you were concerned that fresh drinking water was not available to children in a nursery, Ofsted would investigate as this is a potential welfare issue that affects the entire nursery. 

If your child was given water when they wanted juice, this would be a matter to take up with the nursery and would not be dealt with by Ofsted.

Ofsted will only investigate complaints that relate to development, care and safety of children in early years education and childcare and will therefore not become involved in disputes about contracts or fees.

Contacting Ofsted

The best way to contact Ofsted is through its online contact form.

If you would like to make a complaint to Ofsted but are not sure what to write, you can use our template letter to help you


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