Ofsted: academy trust challenge of decision

31st August 2023

In November 2022, following a graded Ofsted inspection, despite being noted ‘Good’ in four of five inspection areas, indication was given to senior leaders at a secondary academy trust that it would be graded ‘Requires Improvement’. The inspection was subsequently concluded in January 2023. However, the outcome was that the second inspection team reached distinctly different judgments.

Ofsted failed to explain the new judgements or the basis for them. Schools are able to challenge and appeal Ofsted inspections in appropriate cases where they are provided sufficient information from Ofsted. Owing to the difference in the decision reached, the academy trust raised queries in respect of the inspection regime, and concerns in respect of the content of the report including its production, and Ofsted’s refusal to provide evidence to the academy trust to substantiate its new judgements.

The decision

The academy trust sought, and has been granted, permission to challenge Ofsted in the High Court. The challenge is on that basis that the Ofsted inspection was flawed owing to a failure by Ofsted to provide evidence to substantiate its findings or offer explanations or reasoning behind the judgements reached in respect of the academy trust in its latest report.

Practical steps

If your academy trust is subject to an inspection, you should ensure that you are familiar with the steps which you can take if you are unsatisfied with the Ofsted inspection outcome. These steps include challenging the Ofsted report, submitting a complaint about Ofsted or, as in this case, if you consider that Ofsted has acted in a manner which is unlawful, irrational, or with procedural impropriety, you may consider commencing a judicial review of the process of inspection, the report produced, and the judgement given to your academy trust.

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