How To Write A Complaint To Ofsted

Written by Dan

Last updated

Are you concerned about the quality of education or care that your child is receiving? Have you tried raising these concerns with the school or childcare provider but feel your voice isn’t heard?

That’s where Ofsted comes in. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is a government department in the UK that inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, as well as those providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Knowing how to communicate your concerns to Ofsted effectively can make a significant difference in ensuring your child receives the quality education and care they deserve.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process step by step, providing clear, actionable advice and examples. We’ll help you craft a complaint that is concise, professional, and compelling, increasing the chances of your concerns being taken seriously. Let’s get started, shall we?

Related: For more, check out our article on What Are Ofsted Grades  here.

What is ofsted

Understanding When to Complain to Ofsted

So, when is it appropriate to voice your concerns directly to Ofsted ? Understanding the right time to take this step is crucial. Ofsted is not the first point of call for minor issues or concerns that can be addressed directly with your child’s school or childcare provider.

It’s crucial to initially discuss your issues with the relevant personnel at these institutions – be it teachers, headteachers, or managers. This approach often resolves many issues swiftly and effectively.

However, there are situations where escalating your complaint to Ofsted becomes necessary.

For instance, if your concerns revolve around the safety and welfare of a child, severe breaches of regulations, or if your initial complaints to the institution have gone unresolved or ignored.

In such cases, Ofsted becomes an important ally in ensuring that standards are upheld and your concerns are taken seriously.

Let’s consider a few examples. Suppose you’ve noticed persistent neglectful behaviour from the staff at your child’s nursery, or you strongly believe that the school’s management is not handling bullying incidents effectively.

Maybe your child’s special educational needs are not being catered to appropriately despite repeated discussions with the school. These are instances that warrant a complaint to Ofsted.

Remember, your voice matters, and raising it at the right time can make significant differences to not only your child’s welfare but also the overall quality of education and care provided by institutions.

Complaints: Ofsted

Knowing What Information to Include in Your Complaint

When it comes to drafting your complaint, precision and clarity are key. Your goal is to provide a clear picture of your concerns, ensuring the recipient can understand the issues without any ambiguity.

The first information to include are your details and your child’s. This includes your full names, addresses, and contact information.

It’s also essential to specify the name of the school or childcare provider you’re complaining against, along with any relevant staff members involved.

Next, outline your specific concerns. Detail the issues you’ve encountered, including any relevant dates, times, and locations. If there were any witnesses to these incidents, their details can be helpful too.

Remember to maintain a factual, objective tone – stick to the facts as you know them and avoid speculation or exaggeration.

Your complaint should also include a record of any previous attempts you’ve made to resolve this issue with the institution in question.

Detail who you spoke to, when the conversation occurred, and the outcome of that discussion. If your concerns were dismissed or unresolved, this history will help Ofsted understand the context and seriousness of the situation.

Finally, clarify what you hope to achieve by lodging this complaint. Are you seeking an investigation into the school’s practices? Policy changes? An apology? By being clear about your expectations, you give Ofsted a clear direction for their response.

Let’s consider an example. Suppose you’re concerned about persistent neglectful behaviour from staff at your child’s nursery. Your complaint might start like this:

“I am Jane Doe, mother of John Doe, who attends XYZ Nursery. I’m writing to express my grave concerns about the repeated instances of neglectful behaviour from staff at the nursery, particularly on 1st, 5th, and 8th November 2023.

Despite raising these issues with the nursery manager on 2nd and 6th November 2023, no satisfactory resolution has been reached. I am seeking an immediate investigation into these incidents and a review of staff conduct at the nursery.”

By structuring your complaint this way, you allow Ofsted to understand your concerns swiftly and clearly, paving the way for prompt action.

How to Structure Your Complaint

Structuring your complaint effectively is fundamental to ensuring your concerns are clearly understood and adequately addressed. A well-structured complaint not only communicates your concerns but also demonstrates your seriousness about the matter.

  1. Start with a clear subject line or title: This should briefly summarize the main issue of your complaint. For instance, “Complaint Regarding Neglectful Behavior at XYZ Nursery”.
  2. Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself and your relationship to the school or childcare provider. Include any relevant details that establish your connection to the institution.
  3. Statement of the Problem: Clearly describe the problem you’re experiencing. Be specific about the incidents, including dates, times, locations, and people involved. Use factual, objective language and avoid emotional or exaggerated statements.
  4. Previous Attempts to Resolve the Issue: Detail any previous attempts you’ve made to address the issue with the school or childcare provider. This shows that you’ve taken appropriate steps before escalating the matter to Ofsted.
  5. Desired Outcome: Clearly state what you hope will result from your complaint. Whether you’re seeking an investigation, changes in policy, or an apology, make sure to express this clearly.
  6. Conclusion: Wrap up your letter by thanking the reader for their attention. You might also indicate your willingness to provide further information if necessary.

Throughout your complaint, maintain a tone that is professional and respectful. Even though you might be upset or frustrated, remember that your goal is to resolve the issue, and an aggressive tone can hinder this process.

Moreover, keep your complaint concise and to the point. Long, rambling complaints can lose their impact and may be less effective. Ensure that every sentence serves a purpose and contributes to explaining your concerns and desired outcome.

Ofsted Grades

Submitting Your Complaint to Ofsted

Once your complaint is well-structured, detailed, and precise, it’s time to submit it to Ofsted. This process is relatively straightforward and can be completed online.

  1. Online Submission: Navigate to the ‘Complaints about Ofsted’ page on the Ofsted website. Here, you’ll find an online form to submit your complaint. Ensure you fill out all necessary fields accurately and attach any supporting documents if applicable.
  2. Timing: According to Ofsted’s complaints policy, you should submit your complaint within five working days of the incident or issue you complain about. If your complaint concerns an Ofsted inspection report, you must lodge your complaint within five working days of Ofsted sending you the final report.

After you’ve submitted your complaint, what happens next?

Ofsted will acknowledge receipt of your complaint and initiate an investigation if necessary. You can expect a response within a timeframe, usually within 30 working days.

The response will outline the findings of their investigation and any actions they plan to take.

Remember, submitting your complaint is only the first step in this process. You should:

  1. Monitor Your Email: Keep an eye on your inbox for any communication from Ofsted regarding your complaint.
  2. Follow-Up: If you haven’t received a response within the expected timeframe, don’t hesitate to follow up with Ofsted.
  3. Keep Records: Maintain a record of all correspondence related to your complaint. This can be helpful if you need to refer back to them in the future.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve navigated the critical steps for voicing concerns to Ofsted effectively.

From understanding when it’s appropriate to complain to knowing what information to include, structuring your complaint, and finally, submitting it to Ofsted, each stage plays a vital role in ensuring your concerns are communicated and addressed.

Remember, the details you include in your complaint are crucial. Providing clear, concise, and factual information about your details, your child’s information, and your specific concerns will help Ofsted understand the gravity of the situation.

Structuring your complaint professionally and respectfully is equally essential. A well-structured complaint with a clear title, introduction, statement of the problem, previous attempts to resolve the issue, desired outcome, and conclusion can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your communication.

Upon submitting your complaint, patience and persistence are key. Keep an eye on your communication channels for any responses from Ofsted, follow up if necessary, and keep records of all correspondence related to your complaint.

Raising a concern might seem daunting, but your voice is essential. As parents and guardians, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our children receive the highest standard of education and care.

So, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns when necessary. Armed with these tips and best practices, you can write and submit an effective complaint to Ofsted.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






Join our email list to receive the latest updates.

Add your form here