Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint to Ofsted about services we inspect and/or regulate, or about Ofsted’s staff or service.

Complain about a provider Ofsted inspects or regulates

The first step is always to raise any issues with the school, service or provider by completing their full complaints procedure. Most issues can be resolved in this way.

We may not be able to accept your complaint if you have not done this already.

Contact your local council or call your local police on 101 if you think a child is at risk. If a child is in immediate danger, call 999.

Complain about a school

Your complaint must relate to the school as a whole, and you must have followed the school’s complaints procedure. Ofsted cannot:

  • consider issues about individual pupils
  • investigate specific incidents
  • judge how well a school responded to a complaint
  • mediate or resolve disputes between you and the school
  • consider complaints if there are other legal ways to pursue them (for example, complaints about admissions or providing education for individual pupils with special educational needs)

We may use your information to inform or bring forward future school inspections. Read more about how to complain about a school.

Complain about childcare

You can get in touch with us at enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk or 0300 123 4666 to complain about a childcare provider. However, Ofsted’s powers here are limited: we cannot resolve disputes between you and the provider. Our role is to make sure that the childcare provider is following all registration requirements and take action if necessary.

If you complain, we will review the information you provide and decide what to do. We may carry out an immediate inspection, ask the provider to take action or work with other agencies to look at any issues.

However, we will not contact you to let you know the outcome.

You can find out more about our powers in ‘Information for parents about Ofsted’s role in regulating childcare’.

Complain about further education or apprenticeships

You need to follow the organisation’s complaints procedure. If you’re still not happy, complain to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Complain about children’s social care

It’s usually best to talk to the social care establishment or agency first.

Find out more about how to raise concerns about children’s social care with Ofsted.

Complain about an Ofsted inspection

You can complain about an inspection if you think there was an issue with the inspection process, how it was carried out or the outcome of the inspection.

We will normally only investigate complaints about an inspection from the school, childcare provider or other institution that we have inspected. If you’re a parent or member of the public, contact the school or provider directly.

Find out how to complain about an Ofsted inspection.

You need to do this within 10 working days after the report is published on Ofsted’s reports website.

Complain about Ofsted’s staff or service

You can make a complaint about Ofsted if you’re unhappy about the behaviour of our staff or the quality of service we’ve provided.

You must do this within 10 working days of the incident you’d like to complain about.

Read more about complaints about Ofsted.

What happens next

We’ll contact you to discuss the issue and see if it can be resolved quickly. If not, we’ll investigate and send you a written response within 30 working days.

We don’t normally delay publication of an inspection report or remove a published inspection report while we investigate complaints about an inspection, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If you’re not satisfied

You can ask for an internal review of how we’ve handled your complaint. You need to do this within 15 working days of the original complaint response date. A senior manager and a ‘scrutiny committee’ acting independently will review how your complaint was handled. You should get a final response within 30 working days.

If you’re still not satisfied

If you’re still unhappy, you can request an external review from the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted (ICASO). You must do this within 3 months of receiving the written response to the internal review from Ofsted.

Individuals or private organisations can complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman does not handle complaints from public organisations such as state schools.

Privacy information

For more about how we use personal data, and our data retention policy, see Ofsted’s personal information charter.