My confidence in the complaints system is at an all time low – continuing my story …….   5 comments

On Tuesday  19th March, I ended my previous blog with my Next Steps plan, as follows

Next Steps

My co minder is waiting to read her re worded report before deciding if she wants to proceed to a stage two complaint, direct with Ofsted (and to be fair to the inspection company – they have told her can do this if she does not accept the re worded report)

I am still waiting for my draft report and will decide if I complain about the wording when I have read it

I am waiting for a response to my stage two complaint – and will then decide in proceed to a stage three

So now to give you the follow up to those next steps so far

As mentioned in my update on previous blog (added Wednesday 19th March), I have had the first response to my online complaint – which I am copying here, in case you had read the previous blog before I added the update

Thank you for contacting Ofsted with your concerns regarding the inspection of Penelope Susan Webb. Your concerns were received in the complaints team on 17 March 2014.

 

Your complaint will be responded to by xxxxxx the inspection services provider for the inspection who will conduct an investigation and aim to send a response to you no later than 30 April 2014. Where this proves not to be possible, they will write to inform you of progress within this time.

 

Your contact point at xxxxxxxx will be a member of their complaints team.

Details of how to contact them are given.

So there we go a wait of up to 6 weeks – and even then they may not have finalised it – before I can follow my next step and move (if needed) to stage three in the complaint process

From feedback / comments that I have had from others – it seems unlikely that I will now get a draft report until the investigation into my complaint is completed (But if by some chance I do – I will let you know what it says. Will be interesting as my co minder and myself were told it would just be slightly differently worded to my co minders)

Therefore the only other next steps feedback I can give you concerns my co minders report.

I should clarify and let you know I have my co minders full permission to blog about her part in this complaint process and to use wording from her report.

Co minder sent email detailing her objection to the wording in her report – and as you will know if read previous blog, she had a call from the inspectors line manager

Today – Thursday 20th March she was emailed the reworded report and a letter from the inspectors line manager – which interestingly said

‘Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write to us on this matter and confirming this concern is now closed’

Rather odd as co minder had not said was closed and had said would look at the reworded draft report before deciding if would go to a stage two complaint.

So co minder has read the reworded (or as it says in the letter ‘minor amendments to the text within the report’) and so have I.

She is not happy – and neither am I.

She has emailed them back to say still not happy

I have made amendments to the text in her report  so that inspectors line manager / complaints team can see why she (we) are not happy with the wording

Take a look at the examples below – and see what you think

From first version of draft report

The inspector observed the childminder engage in a range of indoor and outdoor learning activities and daily care routines with the children

From reworded draft report

The inspector observed the childminder engage in a range of indoor learning activities and daily care routines with children.

So was first draft a ‘copy and paste’ statement (which in itself is a ‘no no’) OR was it a cover up of an inspection that did not follow guidelines?

As far as I am concerned – the mere fact that the reworded version has corrected this – is evidence that the inspector did not do her job. It is one thing to copy and paste from an old report on same setting and forget to take out that has a dog – when no longer has a dog  (and bad enough as inspectors are not supposed to copy and paste) BUT a totally different thing to say observed something when did not. Reports are supposed to be based on notes made on day, and as inspector did not go outside AT ALL to observe my co minder or myself – it was a lie.

From first version of draft report

The childminder provides a wide range of equipment, such as wheeled toys and  climbing equipment ……

From re worded version of draft report

The childminder provides a wide range of equipment, such as climbing equipment

So again – as this was supposed to be evidence based on observation or discussion or documentation – how could there be an error in the first version? In fact the only evidence of the equipment outside was from a verbal discussion with myself near the end of the inspection – and I most certainly did not say wheeled toys – as have not had any – on purpose –  since registering in 2010.

Even if it was a copy and paste situation – whose report was that copied from – certainly not any of mine from this registration – and as my co minders last report was from her own setting,  not my setting,  it would not have been relevant for this inspection.

Therefore I feel the inspector did not do her job – she did not gather the evidence used in the report on the day – and to me the fact that the line manager took out the words ‘wheeled toys’  suggests ‘cover up’ not just altering facts within description of the setting – this part of the report is supposed to be based on evidence gathered on the day.

So just two examples from first version of the draft report and the second version.

But even putting that aside – my co minders re worded report does not give a true record of my co minders practice.

Look at these examples and see what you think

From second version of draft report

The childminder is keen to develop and further improve her service. She works closely with her co-childminder and attends regular groups to enhance her knowledge, which further supports children’s continued development.

What I think would be a more accurate version

The childminder is keen to develop and further improve her service. She works closely with her co-childminder . and they share information from her co childminders attendance at groups and national events. The childminder has access to a wide range of childcare books and publications such as Nursery World and EYE magazine.

You see my co minder does not attend ”groups’ – she sometimes goes with me to termly messy play days – but not always; She is not a member of the childminding group that I belong to – and has never attended any of the groups meetings or training; She does not attend the national meetings and training that I do;  She does not subscribe to magazines such as Nursery World and so on  BUT I do share information with her, we do discuss things and she does read the magazines that I subscribe to.

The version in the draft report makes it sound like my co minder attends these things and that she is proactive in ensuring her CPD – she is  – but can only do so because of what I do / provide.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not ‘saying my co minder is a bad childminder – what I am saying is we have agreed that she works as my assistant and therefore leadership and management is my responsibility – and at my cost.

We are both very happy with this arrangement – it works for us   However, the inspector completely failed to grasp this, and the whole report suggest that my co minder is responsible for and pays for / puts in place all these things

From second version of draft report

There is scope to further enhance children’s safety through more frequent tidying away of toys and equipment in the areas in which they play.

What I think would be a more accurate version

I don’t have an more appropriate version of the recommendation ‘Under ‘is not outstanding yet’

This should not be in the report at all – as  it suggests the children’s safety was at risk

NB – Children’s safety not an issue – there were toys out in ONE of the rooms that were being played with – the other rooms were tidy. An adult was with the children / monitoring safety at all times. It was agreed at the end of the inspection (reluctantly as being pressured to agree to something) that children could be further supported to tidy up – when appropriate to their stage of development (the lack of tiding up was from a not yet 2 year old and a just 2 year old). Safety concerns were not mentioned on the day and therefore NOT agreed to as an recommendation

If the inspector had looked at the staff communication book she would have seen evidence of discussion about tidying up;  if she had looked at those children’s records she would have seen next stage plans about supporting to tidy up especially for the just 2 year old; AND we did tell her in discussion about this recommendation – that we had set times that we all tidied up – that we felt it was appropriate for children of this age to put things in and out of containers – and that we thought that it was unfair to the three year old and the just  four year old to be made to tidy up, when a two year old could empty the contents of a just tidied box in seconds (soul destroying we think) so again justifies out practice AT THE MOMENT of set tidy up times.

I personally feel that not only did the inspector pressure my co minder and myself to accept this recommendation – she then made it sound like the children were at risk – when they were not – and the safety aspect of this recommendation was not part of what we reluctantly agreed to. This means that instead of a recommendation that we would have reluctantly accepted – we now have to challenge why the inspector add the safety aspect to it – and do not accept it at all.

From the second version of the draft report

The childminder is aware of the progress check at age two and has started to collect information about children’s progress in the prime areas of learning to enable her to complete this with parents.

What I think would be a more accurate version

2 year old checks have been completed on some of the children, and the childminder and her co childminder have started to collect evidence on the younger children’s progress ………

My view is the statement in the second version (which is unchanged from the first version) is evidence that the inspector did not look at documentation – or ask the right questions.

From the second version of the draft report

The childminder encourages parents to extend their children’s learning by sending their favourite toys home and sharing the learning journeys Furthermore, parents receive a good range of ideas through daily feedback and newsletters ……………………..

What I think would be a more accurate version

The childminder encourages parents to extend their children’s learning by sending their favourite toys home and sharing the  daily diaries and photographs  Furthermore, parents receive a good range of ideas through daily feedback and newsletters that the co-minder produces …………….

Shocking really WE DON’T HAVE LEARNING JOURNEYS. We do have daily diaries and a huge amount of photographic evidence – in a setting folder.

I write and send out the newsletters – my co minder does not get involved with newsletters at all. Again our choice of working practice, that suits us both – but the wording in my co minders report makes it sound like she produces the newsletters

I could add lots more examples, but I won’t at this stage – as my co minder is going to take her complaint further.

We now both have to wait until the inspection company;

a) responds to my stage two complaint

b) sends me a draft report

c) for a response to my co minders second stage complaint (once she has sent it in)

It may be a while before I have anything further to feedback – but as soon as I do there will be a blog.

If you are going through a similar experience, please do either respond in the comments section, email me or get in touch with the Big Ofsted Conservation team.

Finally – please share my blogs via Facebook, Twitter, email – whatever way you can – because from the messages that I am getting – my experience is not unique.

We need to highlight what is going on, we need to stand together to give each other strength and encouragement – and yes we need to work together with Ofsted through the Big Ofsted Conversation to improve inspections and judgements – and therefore reports.

We deserve fair, consistent, evidence based inspections and judgements;

The children deserve to have the very best early years experience possible, which has been judged to be good or outstanding by a robust inspection system;

Parents should be able to expect to read honest, evidence based reports to help them decide on the best setting for their child;

None of this is possible, while flawed  inspections such as mine and my co minders continue.

5 responses to “My confidence in the complaints system is at an all time low – continuing my story …….

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  1. Crickey, what a saga. Do you think you may also have grounds to complain about maladministration, once you have exhausted this complaints process?

    • I am not sure at this stage – and will depend on what happens next.

      However, if get to the end of the complaints process without resolving my issues, I will consider this aspect

  2. To be honest I think alot of us have had poor OFSTED inspections, the one I had before my last one reduced me to tears and lasted seven hours it was in school holidays and I had eight children (who were all stars!) When she walked in she asked me what grading I wanted and I thought id go for it so said Outstanding, she said I dont give those!
    I have not got the confidence and frankly was so glad it was over ,that I didn’t challenge it, in hindsight I should have! Thankfully the next inspection I had was better but I still felt that any criticisms that had been made were ‘made up’ like they have to find fault! Next time (if there is a next time) I will read and go through the report with a fine toothcomb and criticise any errors , maybe if we all do this we will be treated more fairly and positively.thanks for sharing your experiences it has given me a feeling of empowerment that I shall carry through to my next inspection, watch out inspectors!!!!

  3. We have just had our inspection and received an ‘inadequate’ from being ‘outstanding/good’ for 25 years. The inspection lasted for 9 hours, without a break and the woman was just horrible. She spent only 80 minutes observing the children and the practice. She asked the staff closed questions and would not let us elaborate or demonstrate our knowledge. The focus appeared to be sadly paper work, planning and staff documentation . She didn’t want to look at a learning journal and was very fixed on children’s ‘age-bands’. She did not want to hear about anything positive our setting had been working towards or where we plan to go next. We are waiting for the full report, however in the meantime we are currently composing a letter of complaint about her attitude and poor judgement. I fear it may be a very long road ahead !

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