A new method of inspecting local authority children’s services will begin in January next year, Ofsted confirmed today [29 November 2017].
Inspections of local authority children’s services (ILACS) will look at how well local authorities are supporting and protecting vulnerable children in their area. The new approach is more proportionate, risk-based and flexible than before, allowing Ofsted to prioritise inspection where it is most needed.
ILACS will retain graded inspections, but introduce regular ‘focused visits’ as well as monitoring visits. More frequent contact between inspections will help Ofsted to identify any issues of concern and support local authorities to address them before services deteriorate.
The new arrangements consist of:
- short inspections – local authorities previously judged to be good or better will receive a 1 week ‘short’ inspection every 3 years
- standard inspections – those judged ‘requires improvement to be good’ will receive a 2 week ‘standard’ inspection every 3 years
- monitoring – local authorities judged to be inadequate will receive quarterly monitoring visits, followed by an inspection under the single inspection framework (SIF)
- focused visits – local authorities that require improvement and those that are good or outstanding will receive at least one focused visit between their short or standard inspection.
Local authorities will also be asked to annually evaluate the quality and impact of their social work practice, as well as having a formal yearly conversation with Ofsted about performance. The inspectorate will use this information to help inform decisions about how and when to inspect each local authority.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman said:
This is an intelligent approach to the inspection of children’s services and an important development for the sector as a whole. Ofsted is fully committed to being a force for improvement across all the areas we inspect and I believe this approach will really help us to support improvement in children’s social care.
Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, Eleanor Schooling said:
This new system of inspection retains our unrelenting focus on the experiences of children and their families. Crucially, it will help us prioritise our work in areas where it is most needed. The quality of social work practice with children that need help and protection, children in care and those leaving care is at the heart of our approach.
More frequent contact is all about identifying what is working well and catching local authorities before they fall. We want to help authorities improve the support they provide for vulnerable children and their families.
We have worked closely with sector leaders in developing this new approach, and I am pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received. This is a step forward for inspection that I hope will make a genuine and positive impact on children’s lives.
Launch events are taking place in the New Year for local authorities wishing to find out more about the new ILACS inspection system.