Ofsted has today announced proposals for a tough new inspection framework to improve standards in children’s homes. The plans will put the experiences and outcomes of the most vulnerable children in our society at the heart of how homes are regulated and inspected.
The consultation sets out the criteria for ‘good’ as the benchmark and minimum standard that children and young people should expect. The current ‘adequate’ judgement will be replaced by a judgement of ‘requires improvement’. The move brings this important area of work in line with Ofsted’s other inspection remits.
Focusing squarely on the journey of children and young people, Ofsted plans to make an overarching judgement on the ‘Overall experiences and progress of children and young people living in the home’ instead of the previous ‘overall effectiveness’ judgement.
Inspectors will additionally make a key judgement on ‘How well children and young people are helped and protected’. If a children’s home is ‘inadequate’ in this area, and therefore not protecting children or promoting their welfare, it will automatically be graded ‘inadequate’ overall. Inspectors will also award a graded judgement on the impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers.
Instead of a blanket policy to return for a full inspection within six to eight weeks where a home is judged inadequate, Ofsted is also proposing a more proportionate, risk based, approach. Inspectors will determine the timing and nature of the next visit based on the nature of the concerns, their severity, and impact on children and young people.
The inspectorate is making its registration, inspection and enforcement practice of homes more robust in parallel with the new programme of regulatory reform proposed by the Department for Education. These new reforms from government introduce quality standards for the first time and no longer have a benchmark of ‘minimum’ so Ofsted will be much better placed to drive improvement across the sector.
Debbie Jones, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said:
The residential care sector supports some of our most vulnerable children and young people and so our inspection must shine a spotlight on what works well. We want children’s homes to provide the best possible care while improving children’s life chances and helping them to successfully manage their lives as young adults.
We also recognise the diversity of provision in the residential sector and that one size does not fit all. We are proposing a flexible model for inspection, which allows inspectors to use their professional judgement to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the home on the experiences of children and young people.
I encourage all those with knowledge and experience in children’s homes to contribute their views about our proposals to strengthen inspection of this significant part of the children’s social care system.
The consultation will close on 13 January 2015 and the new framework will take effect from April 2015.
Notes to editors
The inspections of children’s homes consultation is published online.
Between December 2013 and February 2014, Ofsted consulted on a new inspection framework for children homes. The majority of respondents were in agreement with the proposals. Ofsted decided not to implement the new framework at that time in order to align more closely with the full package of regulatory reform led by government.
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 and 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 inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 0300 130 415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 123 1231 between 8.30am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.