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OFSTED COMPLAINTS ADJUDICATOR APPOINTED

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The Office for Standards in Education has announced the ...
The Office for Standards in Education has announced the

appointment of Elaine Rassaby as the first independent OFSTED

Complaints Adjudicator (OCA). She takes up her duties from 1 July

1998.

At the same time OFSTED is publishing its newly revised leaflet on

its procedure for dealing with complaints about Section 10 school

inspections.

The appointment of the adjudicator will strengthen existing

complaints procedures and reflects OFSTED's commitment to keep its

systems and standards of inspection under review. The OCA will

produce an annual report which will focus on OFSTED's strengths and

weaknesses in complaint handling and make recommendations on how

procedures could be improved.

The OCA will only be called upon to consider any complaint which

cannot be resolved through the first two stages of OFSTED's

complaints procedures. Only 2.9 per cent of school inspections in

1997 resulted in formal complaints. Less than 0.1 per cent of

inspections were taken up for internal review, the second stage of

the procedures.

The OCA's role will be to review how the complaint was handled in

terms of fairness, thoroughness and adherence to the published

procedures, broker agreement between OFSTED and the complainant if

appropriate, and offer advice to OFSTED to help improve procedures

and practice. The OCA cannot hear appeals against inspection

judgements.

The OCA can:

- consider the handling of complaints against Registered and

Team Inspectors, Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) and administrative

staff;

- request meetings with complainants, representatives of OFSTED,

inspectors and any other parties;

If the OCA finds in favour of the complainant she can recommend that

OFSTED:

- apologises

- offers further explanations

- reconsiders the complaint

- and/or reviews its procedures

Elaine Rassaby said of her appointment as OFSTED Complaints

Adjudicator: 'I am pleased to be able to play a part in the national

school inspection system. Accountability is important but schools

must have confidence in the fairness of the system. I hope I can make

a contribution to that confidence by resolving the occasional, and

inevitable, conflict between the school, the inspector and OFSTED.'

Elaine Rassaby was appointed following fair and open competition

according to Civil Service Commission's rules governing public

appointments.

Biographical notes

Elaine Rassaby, 46, was born in Sydney, Australia. She graduated

in Applied Psychology from the University of New South Wales and came

to Britain in 1975.

Her work has centred largely on the care and rights of mentally

ill people and she has researched issues relating to the use of the

Mental Health Act. She is one of a small number of non-lawyers who

have been approved by the Law Society for inclusion on its panel of

Mental Health Review Tribunal representatives. In this capacity she

also pursues complaints by clients about their care. She was

appointed to the Mental Health Act Commission in 1991 and from

1994-96 was ComplaintsConvenor for the Commission, dealing with

complaints by detained patients, their relatives, solicitors and

others about their care or management under the Mental Health Act.

She runs workshops and lectures on issues relating to risk assessment

and management in mental health services.

Since 1987 she has been a director of a charity and undertakes

research for solicitors on cases involving alleged injury from

pharmaceutical products.

NOTES

1. Copies of the leaflet Making Complaints to OFSTED will be sent to

all schools by OFSTED when they are initially advised of their next

inspection. Copies of the leaflet are also available, free of charge,

from the OFSTED Publications Centre, telephone 0171 510 0180.

2. Outline of the steps in the OFSTED complaints procedures for a

school complaining about its inspection:

- Discuss grievance with Registered inspector;

- Discuss grievance with the Inspection contractor;

- Write to OFSTED's Registrar;

- Ask for OFSTED internal review;

- Refer complaint to independent Complaints Adjudicator.

- Complainants can approach, through their Member of Parliament, the

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (also known as the

Ombudsman).

3. OFSTED is a non-ministerial government department established

under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the

inspection of all schools in England. Its staff include Her Majesty's

Inspectors (HMI), who draw on inspection evidence to report on good

practice in schools and on a wide range of educational issues.

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