Sir Michael Wilshaw said that following discussions with local government representatives and after assessing the results of initial pilots, he had taken the decision to defer the proposed new multi-agency child protection inspections involving a number of other inspectorates, that had been planned for launch in June. He also said Ofsted would no longer be going ahead with plans to separately inspect services for children looked after.
Sir Michael said he had taken these decisions on two significant issues.
Firstly, I do not think it is right to inspect child protection and looked after children services separately, as we had planned. 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.
Secondly, while the recent pilot multi-agency inspections of child protection were successful in part, they raised a number of issues and concerns that I have 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.
Sir Michael added:
I fully recognise the importance and impact of shared professional responsibility for the protection and care of children and young people. I am entirely committed to continuing to work together to establish how best to inspect services that make the most difference to the most vulnerable children, young people and families. Indeed, I will be meeting with my fellow chief inspectors in the near future to agree the next steps.
Ofsted will introduce the single inspection framework for child protection and looked after children, including the inspection of local authority fostering and adoption functions, in September this year. The consultation and piloting of the new arrangements will begin in June.
In the meantime and until the new framework is implemented, Ofsted will continue to carry out separate inspections of local authority arrangements to protect children, will re-introduce a small number of targeted inspections of services for looked after children, and will continue with the regulatory inspections of local authority adoption and fostering functions.