Latest News COVID-19: Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (“LGSCO”) complaints, Ofsted and local area SEND inspections Updated 02.02.2021 We have a separate webpage of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and SEN provision. Local government and Social Care Ombudsman (“LGSCO”) complaints The LGSCO considers complaints about local authorities’ (“LA”) ‘maladministration leading to injustice’. After pausing work last year the LGSCO re-opened to accept new complaints and restarted work on existing complaints on 29 June 2020. During the current national lockdown, the LGSCO helpline (0300 061 0614) is open between 10am and 12 noon. 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 has 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. Ofsted’s planned inspection activity will be carried out remotely until after the February half-term. Ofsted will still make on-site inspection visits where there is an immediate concern e.g. about safeguarding, leadership or failure to provide education. Ofsted plans to re-start routine, graded inspections of all settings in the 2021 summer term. Early years providers September to December 2020: Ofsted begun regulatory activity in providers judged as inadequate or requiring improvement. From January 2021: Ofsted will continue “vital regulatory work” but has paused its planned assurance inspections until after February half term. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Maintained schools and academies September to December 2020: Ofsted inspectors visited inadequate schools and a sample of other state-funded schools to discuss how they are supporting pupils’ return to school. Brief letters were published after these visits, not full inspection reports. From January 2021: Ofsted will start remote inspections of schools judged inadequate or requiring improvement from 25 January. These will not result in a grade. Ofsted will also follow up on complaints raised by parents across all grades of schools. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Further education providers September to December 2020: Ofsted planned to 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 start remote inspections of FE providers judged inadequate or requiring improvement for overall effectiveness that have not had visits since their last full inspection from 25 January 2021.Details on this are here. Routine graded inspections will resume in the 2021 summer term. Independent schools From September to December 2020: Ofsted was providing targeted oversight of independent schools, prioritising safeguarding, and undertaking inspections commissioned by the Department for Education where appropriate. From January 2021: In the spring term, all inspections will be at the request of the Department for Education. 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. If you are considering escalating a complaint that you have made to your child/young person’s setting to Ofsted, please see here. Local area SEND arrangements From the 2020 autumn term, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) visited a sample of local areas with their agreement. These visits focused 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 continue the above visits this 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.