Press release

No notice, unannounced inspections for child protection

Ofsted is to introduce no notice inspection for child protection services.

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Focusing on the child’s journey and experience and looking at what makes the most difference in improving children’s lives, the new child protection framework, published today, will come into effect in May.

The no notice inspections, carried out over a two-week period, will see a team of experienced inspectors spending the majority of their time talking directly to children and their families about their experiences, as well as front-line social workers and managers. Inspectors will also shadow social workers in their work with children and their families, and observe multi-agency working.

Ofsted Deputy Chief Inspector, John Goldup said:

This new framework puts the child’s experience at the heart of inspection. We want to ensure that inspectors are able to judge the impact that professionals working in child protection are making to help children and protect them from harm.

For the first time in our child protection inspections, we’ll be talking to children and their families directly and shadowing social workers in their day-to-day work. This will be a very important part of the evidence that inspectors will use. We won’t just look at what happens to children when they become subject to formal child protection processes – it’s just as important to evaluate the help that children and their families do or don’t get early on, when problems first emerge, because that can make a critical difference to whether the problems get worse and the risks to the child escalate.

The number of cases being examined by inspectors will be doubled to ensure there is an in-depth understanding of how well children are protected. Inspectors will sit alongside social workers and managers to go through case files and explore the support provided for each child.

The new framework will focus on those things that Ofsted identifies as making the most difference to children. Inspectors will make judgements in three key areas, replacing the nine judgements made in current inspections:

  • the effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers
  • the quality of practice
  • leadership and governance

Inspectors will gather evidence from these key areas and make a summary judgement on the overall effectiveness of the service.

The new framework comes about after taking into account the responses from a public consultation held between July and September last year.

Notes to editors

  1. ‘The framework for the inspection of local authority arrangements for the protection of children, evaluation schedule and grade descriptors and ‘Responses to Ofsted’s consultation on the inspection of local authority children’s services’ will be available online.

  2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses local authority children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

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Published 31 January 2012