Complaints and Appeals Policy
This policy applies to all learners and apprentices working towards OTT regulated qualifications, endorsed and development programmes and other non-regulated products. The policy provides definition and examples of Complaints which may occur for a learner. This OTT policy is provided to guide learners and apprentices in how to approach OTT and those who wish to lodge a complaint.
This policy sets out principles for addressing complaints on academic matters (complaints) and appeals on academic matters (appeals) by learners and apprentices, together with complaints of a non-academic nature. We aim to give you an excellent experience when dealing with OTT, so we welcome your comments, suggestions and feedback about the service you have experienced when contacting us or when using any of our products or services.
This policy applies to enquiries or appeals made where:
- a learner considers that a decision continues to disadvantage them even after the outcome of the internal appeals procedure (e.g. a decision concerning assessment outcomes or reasonable adjustments).
OTT expects most enquiries or appeals from individual learners and apprentices to be resolved by means of local resolution. Where a learner considers the internal enquiries or appeals policy to have failed to produce a satisfactory outcome, learners and apprentices are advised to make an enquiry or appeal, in writing, to OTT.
Where decisions are concerned, the OTT enquiries and appeals procedure will consider whether the centre:
- used procedures that were consistent with OTT requirements
- applied the procedures properly and fairly in arriving at judgments.
The OTT enquiries and appeals process focuses on procedure and is not concerned with making judgments about learner work. The process does not normally involve the re-assessment of learner work but a review may be ordered if the outcome of the enquiry or appeal requires it. It is essential that the policy is communicated to all staff and learners and apprentices.
Definition - complaints
A complaint is defined as an expression of a specific concern from you about the provision of a course/unit, or a programme of study, or a related academic service or the complaints-handling process itself where it’s clear that you expect us to identify the cause of the problem and to take some kind of remedial action.
We aim to ensure that:
- making a complaint is as easy as possible;
- we treat a complaint as a clear expression of dissatisfaction with our service which calls for an immediate response;
- we deal with it promptly, politely and, when appropriate, confidentially;
- we respond in the right way, for example by giving you an explanation or an apology where we have got things wrong, and letting you know what action we’ve taken;
- we learn from complaints and we use them to improve our service
It is not possible to provide a definitive list of examples of complaints, but the following are examples of situations that would constitute a complaint:
- incorrect invoicing
- certificate spelling errors
- lack of response to queries
- unable to unsubscribe to emails
- incorrect products received
- delay with receipt of certificates
- non-compliance with stated OTT process e.g. not adhering to published timescales or processes
Definition – appeals
An appeal is defined as a request for a review of a decision of an academic body charged with decisions on learner progression, assessment and awards.
Appeals may be made against a range of issues relating to OTT qualifications and assessment:
- Results of assessments – decisions made by the centre and/or OTT
- Assessment marking – where the result is undisputed and only the percentage mark is questioned – carried out by the centre and/or OTT. This does not include arithmetical errors in marking, which fall under the Enquiries Policy.
- OTT’s decision to decline a centre’s request for reasonable adjustments,special considerations and/or use of language (other than English)
- OTT’s actions to be taken following an investigation into malpractice, maladministration, plagiarism and/or cheating
- The degree of match to OTT units/qualifications identified by an OTT mappingor a RPL exercise
Appeals can be made regarding the results of:
- OTT qualifications assessed by the centre
- OTT assessment delivery services
- Core training or product licensing assessment for OTT External Verifiers
- Endorsed or development programmes
- Examinations or tests
Out of scope
There are some issues OTT will not investigate – essentially anything:
- submitted to us more than 10 working days after the date on which the centrenotified the learner of the result of their internal procedure, or after completionof an internal appeals procedure. In terms of OTTA 10 working days from whenthe result has been sent to the centre
- that took place before OTT received the learner’s registration
- that is or should be dealt with under an employer’s disciplinary or grievanceprocedures
- involving another awarding organisation
- involving points of law
OTT will ensure, in accordance with its Equal Opportunities Policy and recruitment and assessment procedures, that no learner shall be disadvantaged by the assessment process, whilst ensuring that national standards are maintained. Assessors will be expected to assess to the occupational standards, not varying or adding to them, using assessment methods appropriate to the learner’s ability and experience. If a learner disagrees with a decision made about their competence it is their right to instigate an appeal.
Everyone involved in the assessment process – including verifiers, assessors and learners and apprentices will be made aware at induction of their rights and responsibilities within this appeals system. A copy of the Appeals Policy will be issued to them at induction.
- OTT will have fair, effective and timely procedures for handling learners and apprentices' complaints and academic appeals.
- OTT’s complaints and appeals procedures are approved and overseen at the highest level.
- OTT will ensure that those studying at all levels have the opportunity to raise matters of concern without risk of disadvantage.
- OTT will make publicly available easily comprehensible information on its complaints and appeals procedures.
- OTT will have clear design of its complaints and appeals procedures to enable them to be conducted in a timely, fair and reasonable manner, having regard to any applicable law.
- OTT will ensure that appropriate action is taken following a complaint or an appeal.
- OTT will satisfy itself that appropriate guidance and support is available for persons making a complaint or an appeal, including those taking advantage of learning opportunities provided away from institutions and/or through flexible and distributed learning.
- OTT will make provision in its procedures for those making a complaint or an appeal to be accompanied at any stage, including formal hearings.
- OTT will have effective arrangements to monitor, evaluate and improve the effectiveness of its complaints and appeals procedures and to reflect on their outcomes for enhancement purposes.
- OTT will ensure that suitable briefing and support is provided for all staff and learners and apprentices involved in handling or supporting complaints and appeals.
Request for Review of a Result
There may be occasions when a candidate’s result in an examination differs significantly from that expected by the training provider and/or the employer. Candidates are entitled to request a review of their result.
Grounds for a Review
Candidates, training providers and trainers are reminded of their obligations as a registrant with the GDC, and that any false declaration could render them liable to a charge of professional misconduct. A candidate may request a review on the following grounds:
- There has been a possible error in the addition and/or allocation of marks and grades;
- There is clear evidence of an administrative error;
- The examination was not conducted in accordance with the relevant regulations;
- A special examination arrangement was agreed but not provided;
- Mitigating circumstances which may have led to the candidates failing to demonstratethe level of knowledge and understanding expected.
- medical or adverse personal circumstances do not necessarily constitute grounds for a review, even if quite serious, if the candidate failed to reveal them before the assessment is taken
- any mitigating circumstances mentioned only after the results are published, butwhich the candidate knew about in advance, are not grounds for a review.
OTT Appeals Process
The enquiry and appeals process is made up of the:
- Quality Review
- OTT Appeals Panel
Should the matter not be resolved following the appeal, the appellant may take the matter up with the relevant regulatory authority (i.e. Ofqual). While an enquiry or appeal is ongoing, the centre must retain all evidence relating to the case. If the enquiry or appeal involves the work of a learner, the centre must retain the work of the complete cohort. OTT will keep all documentation regarding an enquiry or appeal for a minimum of 24 months from the date of the appeal decision.
Request for Review
- The request for a review must be instigated by the candidate or the employer, to the OTT Board Secretary, in writing within 7 calendar days of the publication of the results.
- The request should be made on the form provided which is intended to assist in relating their request to the permitted grounds for a review. Supporting evidence sufficient to allow consideration of the review should be attached together with the appropriate fee. In the case of an assessment appeal, the learner’s submission must be included along with mark sheet(s) and all records of assessment, internal verification and the internal appeal.
- OTT will forward the request for a review to the Chairman of the Board who will decide whether the grounds stated are valid and whether the candidate has provided evidence sufficient to allow consideration. The candidate will receive acknowledgement of this.
- The Chairman may consult with the Board regarding additional information if and when appropriate but the final review will be carried out by the Chairman.
- The Chairman will report back to the Board within 14 days of the outcome of the review.
- The Board secretary will immediately inform the candidate and/or training provider/employer as appropriate.
The enquiry stage involves a review of the case by the OTT Quality Assurance team. This will establish the grounds for the review and if it should proceed further.
The Quality Review involves a further review of the case involving senior officers within the OTT Education Board. For the majority of cases, the matter can be resolved by this quality review taking place.
A Quality Review should be requested by the individual learner within 14 calendar days of receipt of the outcome of the enquiry request. OTT will acknowledge receipt of the request within three calendar days and will communicate the outcome of the Quality Review in writing to the Head of the OTT or individual learner within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request. If the learner is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Quality Review, they may appeal.
OTT Appeals Panel
Receipt of an application for an appeal hearing will be acknowledged within three working days. The chair of the OTT Appeals Panel will decide if there is an appeal case to be heard. The learner will be notified within 14 calendar days if the case has been accepted or not. If it has been accepted, a hearing of the Appeals Panel will be arranged and the case will be heard.
The appeals process involves a hearing before the OTT Appeals Panel, normally consisting of three panellists, two of whom are not employees of OTT. The learner or a delegated representative, may be expected to attend the hearing. The chair of the Appeals Panel will consider an appeal provided that:
- the appeal is submitted in writing by the Principal/ Learner
- OTT’s Quality Review process has been exhausted
- the appeal is submitted within 14 calendar days of receipt of the outcome of thequality review, or any further work resulting from the quality review, whichever isthe later.
The OTT Appeals Panel is the final step in the appeals process. A final decision will be made regarding the outcome of the appeal. The Appeals Panel will communicate the outcome of the hearing to the individual learner within seven calendar days of the hearing.
The learner shall be sent written details of the outcome of their appeal, which shall be one of the following:
- Confirmation of the original decision
- Instructions for further assessments/decisions by either the same assessor or another.
- A judgement that the evidence demonstrated competence and the assessment decision needs to be reconsidered.
If agreement cannot be reached, full details shall be sent to the external moderator. Either the external (moderator) or awarding body shall adjudicate and issue a final decision and if appropriate provide guidance.
OTT shall keep written records of all appeals and provide copies to all persons involved together with the details of the procedures or guidelines used and the information given to all concerned about the appeals procedure.
There is a fee of £50.00 for a review which will be returned if a result is subsequently reversed. If OTT decides to uphold an enquiry or appeal the fee will be returned to the appellant. OTT reserves the right not to enter into discussions on the repayment of any expenses incurred by the centre or third parties in connection with the appeal hearing.
Outcome and action
We will normally provide a response within 30 working days – a report on the outcome, but if it is going to take longer we will keep you fully informed. The Board will determine the final outcome and confirm in writing. If the appeal is upheld, OTT will take the appropriate course of action.
If you feel that OTT has not followed its own published timescales or process then please follow the complaints procedure.
Appeals against a centre’s assessment decision on result and/or marks
The Chairman of the Board will review all relevant evidence, reassess the work and write a short report on the findings. If the appeal is upheld OTT will amend the result and/or marks held on our records and take any further action as appropriate. OTT’s decision will be final and there is no further right of appeal to OTT but taking a regulated qualification may have the right of appeal.
Appeals against decision of OTT assessment delivery services on assessment result and/or mark
Where you disagree with the result or, even if you agree with the result but think the marks awarded by OTT should be higher, for a fee you can ask us to have that submission independently re-assessed by using a different OTT Lead Assessor.
The Chairman of the Board will then review all relevant evidence, including the original assessment and QA records alongside the new re-assessment, and write a report on his/her findings. The report will be presented to the Board.
If the appeal is upheld we will amend the result and/or marks held on our records, if necessary reissue certificates, and take any further action as appropriate. There is no further right of appeal to OTT but taking a regulated qualification may have the right of appeal. OTT will charge a re-assessment fee for appeals against a OTT assessment decision, see the OTT fees list for details.
* The independent person is defined as someone who has not held a role within OTT for at least three years.
OTT’s decision to decline a request for reasonable adjustments, special considerations and/or use of language (other than English)
The Chairman of the Board will review the initial application and write a report on the outcome. The report will be presented to the Board. The Board will make the binding decision on the outcome. There is no further right of appeal to OTT but taking a regulated qualification may have the right of appeal.
OTT’s actions to be taken following an investigation into malpractice, maladministration, plagiarism and/or cheating
The Chairman of the Board will present the original report, the appeal and the grounds it was made on and any other supporting evidence to the Board, plus participation by an independent person who has appropriate competence within the assessment process. The Board’s decision is final and there is no further right of appeal except for learners and apprentices registered on a Scottish Vocational Qualification that is regulated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).
Except in exceptional circumstances, we will try to ensure that a complaint remains confidential but in some cases the circumstances giving rise to the complaint may make it impossible to maintain confidentiality. In these situations we will discuss this with the complainant.
Where the outcome of an enquiry or appeal brings the validity of other results into question, OTT will take action to protect the interests of other learners and apprentices and the integrity of the qualification. This may include a further review of learners and apprentices’ work. This extended review by OTT may, if necessary, be undertaken without consulting or obtaining the learners and apprentices’ consent. It may also involve external regulatory bodies.
Ofqual require all awarding organisations to establish and maintain their compliance with regulatory conditions and criteria. As part of this process, policies that relate to OTT’s status as an awarding organisation will reference the particular conditions and criteria that they address. As part of OTT approval process centres must have their own policy in relation to complaints.
All complaints are reported and reviewed internally each month. They are also reviewed by the Customer Services Team and, where relevant, by the Education Board to ensure our qualifications and programmes are accessible to all whilst maintaining quality in implementation. An audit of all complaints and appeals is presented to the Education Board on an annual basis.
We aim to improve our business processes and our response to customers in the light of learning from the feedback we receive.
This policy addresses the following regulatory criteria and conditions:
Ofqual General Conditions of Recognition:
Condition C2 Arrangements with Centres
C2.3 That agreement must in particular include provisions which:
(i) requiretheCentretooperateacomplaintshandlingprocedureorappeals process for the benefit of Learners and apprentices
This policy shall be the subject of annual review or as necessary.
Review date: July 2020