Annal Nayyar Blogs: Ofsted announces single inspection regime for children’s services

Ofsted has ditched plans for separate inspections of child protection and looked-after children services following discussions with councils.

Instead it will bring in a single inspection framework for all social services involving children, including adoption and fostering.

The watchdog also announced today that it was deferring the move to bring in five other inspectorates to help judge child protection services. This multi-agency approach had been set for launch in June and has been piloted.

But Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw said the pilots had raised several issues and concerns he had been unable to ignore.

Although the presence of other inspectorates did reaffirm that helping and protecting children is a shared professional responsibility, I have listened carefully to concerns raised by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

‘I particularly agree with their view that we need to consider further how we will test, challenge and judge the specific accountabilities of each agency to protect, care for and help children, young people and their families.’

The single inspection framework will be introduced in September this year, with consultation and piloting arrangements to begin in June.

Wilshaw said: ‘Our inspections of these hugely important functions must get to the heart of how well vulnerable children are identified, protected and looked after, and the difference this makes to their lives.

‘I believe we can only do this effectively through a single inspection framework that examines the effectiveness of help, protection and care from the time it is first needed until a young person who is looked after has been successfully helped to begin their life as a young adult.’

Wilshaw is due to meet other inspectorates in the ‘near future’ to discuss next steps towards a multi-agency approach.

Alan Wood, vice president of the ADCS, said it was right to defer the introduction of the multi-agency framework given the issues that arose in the pilots.

He said: ‘The inspection framework plays a pivotal role in the protection of the most vulnerable children in our community and on balance we believe it is better to delay the new framework in the interests of making it as effective as possible.

‘We welcome the acknowledgement of the need for a new single inspection framework to look at child protection and children looked after, including adoption and fostering functions. ADCS looks forward to continuing an open and productive dialogue with Ofsted and will actively engage to ensure that the new framework is fit for purpose.’

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