Whilst a new procedure being trialled by Ofsted is helping to reduce the number of inspections triggered due to unfounded complaints, in reality there is little that settings can do to prevent people from making a malicious allegation if they are intent on doing so.

Prior to the pilot initiative, worrying figures released by chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw showed that around 3 in 10 (29 per cent) of inspections that were triggered by a complaint led to the nursery or childminder concerned receiving a downgrade in their rating.

Ofsted’s director, Nick Hudson, has admitted that it is difficult to ascertain whether a complaint received by the regulatory body is malicious or not. He said: “We can’t tell if someone, when they write in, is actually doing so because they don’t like the fact that the setting’s fees have gone up. We can’t tell that – it’s impossible to tell.”

Hopefully you will never find yourself in this harrowing situation, but if you do, it helps to be well prepared by:

  • Have a robust record keeping system for your setting’s daily management
  • Keep full details (dates/times/factual accounts) of any interactions with people or businesses which could arise in a complaint
  • Have clear policies and procedures that you can prove your staff adhere to
  • Back up any statements you make to Ofsted with hard copies of evidence where possible
  • Whilst anyone making a complaint is considered a whistleblower and as such are protected by law, you are within your rights to seek legal advice and guidance if you need to.

Do you have any advice you’d like to give? Share your thoughts with us


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