What you need to know
If you have made a complaint to Ofsted, but you are unhappy with how your complaint was handled, you can ask the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted (ICASO) to conduct a review.

The adjudicator is independent from Ofsted.


The process


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 publicly 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 the ICASO Administrator (the Administrator) 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 form with all accompanying documents to be submitted as evidence attached.
  • Upon receipt of the application, the Administrator will contact Ofsted to ensure that the complainant has exhausted the internal process.
  • Upon receipt of this confirmation, an Adjudicator will be appointed by the Administrator 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 and request a summary of the complaint process from Ofsted within 21 working days.
  • The Ofsted summary will be sent to the Adjudicator who will send this to the Complainant.
  • The Complainant will be given five working days to submit any final comments on the Ofsted summary. Comments must be limited to observations about the summary and cannot include any new information or re-argument of the case.
  • In the period where comments are due, the Adjudicator will review the papers and begin to formulate their recommendations. If the Adjudicator feels that the complaint is complex or relates to a matter of public interest it will be passed to the Senior Adjudicator who will decide if further information is required from the parties and the parties will be informed by the Administrator.
  • Upon receipt of the Complainant’s final comments (if any) the Adjudicator will consider all documentation.
  • The Adjudicator will issue brief written recommendations and these will be sent to the parties within 21 working days of the Adjudicator being in receipt of all information.
  • 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 publish their reasons for not complying.





Contact us
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR),
International Dispute Resolution Centre,
70 Fleet Street,
United Kingdom

Telephone: 020 7520 3800
Fax: 0845 1308 117
Textphone: 020 7520 3767
Email complaintsreview@cedr.com