Latest News Coronavirus: Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (“LGSCO”) complaints, Ofsted and local area SEND inspections Updated 14.01.2021 Local government and Social Care Ombudsman (“LGSCO”) complaints The LGSCO, which considers complaints about local authorities’ (“LA”) ‘maladministration leading to injustice’, re-opened to accept new complaints and restarted work on existing complaints on 29 June 2020. The LGSCO helpline (0300 061 0614) is open between 10am and 4pm. The LGSCO urges anyone making a new complaint to use its online complaint form if possible and reserve the helpline for people in need of help accessing its online service. The LGSCO will contact people who have existing complaints with updates. If you have already complained to the LGSCO and need to contact them, you should use the details of your named contact. If your complaint involves COVID-19, please see the LGSCO factsheet on how they will investigate it. This includes the following helpful statement: “We will expect councils and care providers to have acted within law and guidance unless there were clear, compelling, and relevant reasons to do something else. We will expect appropriate record keeping, delegation, decision making, and other principles of good administrative practice, appropriate for operation during a crisis.” For urgent issues, you should contact your LA or care provider. Ofsted inspections The Government has issued notices suspending Ofsted’s duty to conduct routine inspections of maintained schools and academies. Instead, Ofsted have made “visits” to settings and planned a gradual return to inspections as below. Visits are not formal inspections. Therefore, they will not result in a published inspection report or grade but following a visit Ofsted will publish a short letter on its website. You can search for these letters here. Briefings on themes that arise from theses visits are here. Early years providers September to December 2020:Ofsted will begin regulatory activity in providers judged as inadequate or requiring improvement. From January 2021: Ofsted will inspect whether providers are meeting the early years foundation stage requirements. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Maintained schools and academies September to December 2020: Ofsted inspectors will visit all inadequate schools and a sample of other state-funded schools to discuss how they are supporting pupils’ return to school. A brief letter will be published after these visits, not a full inspection report. From January 2021: Ofsted will restart monitoring inspections of schools judged inadequate and some schools requiring improvement. These will not result in a grade. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Further education providers September to December 2020: Ofsted will carry out an additional monitoring visit to new providers that have one or more existing ‘insufficient progress’ judgements and that would have been due a full inspection up to and during this interim period. From January 2021: Ofsted will restart normal monitoring visits. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Independent schools From September 2020, Ofsted will provide targeted oversight of independent schools, prioritising safeguarding, and undertake inspections commissioned by the Department for Education where appropriate. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. You can find more information on Ofsted’s phased return to inspections here . OFSTED has also produced a useful guide to what it sees as good practice in remote education for schools. Local area SEND arrangements From the 2020 autumn term, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) will visit a sample of local areas with their agreement. These visits will focus on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with SEND and supporting local areas to strategically prioritise their needs. If your local area is visited Ofsted will provide them with an online survey to send to all parents of children and young people with SEND. Following a visit, the local area will receive a summary note of Ofsted and CQCs findings. Ofsted and CQC will publish briefings on themes that arise to promote learning, not on individual local areas. Ofsted and CQC expect to conduct the above visits this term and in the 2021 spring term. These visits will not be inspections. It has not been confirmed when local area SEND inspections are intended to restart. You can find more information on local area SEND visits in this guidance.