Press release

Ofsted consults on inspecting services for vulnerable children

Ofsted consults on a single inspection framework for local authority children's social care.


Inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers proposes a single framework for inspecting local authority child protection and services for looked after children, including those leaving or who have left care.

The single framework replaces previous plans to implement separate inspections for child protection and services for children looked after. It proposes an evaluation of help, protection and care for children including the arrangements for local authority fostering and adoption services.

Two other consultations, also launched today, are Good voluntary adoption provision and Good independent fostering provision. The frameworks evaluate adoption and fostering services provided by voluntary and independent providers respectively.

All three frameworks propose to judge the overall effectiveness of services including a number of key judgement areas. For the single inspection framework these are:

  • the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection
  • the experiences and progress of children looked after and achieving permanent homes and families for them
  • leadership, management and governance.

The consultations describe ‘good’ as the minimum standard that children, young people, their families and carers have a right to expect. As such, the ‘adequate’ judgement is replaced by a judgement of ‘requires improvement’.

A judgement of ‘inadequate’ in any of the key judgement areas will automatically result in an ‘inadequate’ judgement for overall effectiveness.

The Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, commented on the proposals:

Ofsted has no greater responsibility than the inspection and regulation of services for vulnerable children and young people. Our inspections of these functions must get to the heart of how well children are helped, protected and looked after, and the difference this makes to their lives.

This new single inspection will mean Ofsted can inspect the whole system that helps, protects and looks after children. I want those same children to have good lives when they leave the care of the state.

I encourage all those with knowledge and experience in child protection and provision for looked after children to contribute their views about our proposals to strengthen inspection of these vital services.

The consultations will close on 12 July 2013.

Notes to editors

  1. The three consultations are available online with a guide for children and young people: services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers; adoption; fostering.

  2. A summary of the responses to the earlier consultations is included as an annex to ‘Inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers’.

  3. 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 inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

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Published 13 June 2013