Press release

Tough new inspections of children’s homes from 1 April

Children’s homes inspections to explicitly focus on the progress and experiences of children and young people.

Children playing chess with man

A new inspection framework to improve standards in children’s homes will take effect in April, Ofsted has confirmed today.

The new framework, published today alongside Ofsted’s consultation responses, will contribute to improving standards in children’s homes across the country. It puts the experiences of the most vulnerable children at the heart of how homes are regulated and assessed.

Following consultation with children’s social care professionals, the majority of the responses supported Ofsted’s proposals.

The consultation received 85 written submissions, supported by a number of well-attended regional events. Ofsted consulted directly with children and young people about a number of specific issues, and piloted the new inspection framework in nine children’s homes.

From 1 April 2015, the inspection framework will include the following:

  • a judgement grade of ‘requires improvement’ that replaces the current judgement of ‘adequate’ where homes require improvement to reach the benchmark of ‘good’

  • a judgement structure that takes into account the overall experiences and progress of children and young people living in the home, with particular focus upon how well children and young people are helped and protected (key judgement) and the impact and effectiveness of leaders and managers
  • new evaluation criteria for the grades of ‘outstanding’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’ based upon ‘good’ as the benchmark
  • if a children’s home is not protecting children or promoting their welfare, it will automatically be graded ‘inadequate’ overall.
  • inspectors will take a risk-assessed approach to homes that have been judged inadequate, with the timing and nature of the next visit based on concerns raised, their severity, and impact on children and young people. This replaces the current policy to return for a full inspection within 6 to 8 weeks

Debbie Jones, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said:

Our new inspection framework aims to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our society are being well cared for and protected. It will assess whether children’s homes are providing the best possible care, while improving children’s life chances and helping them to successfully manage their lives as young adults.

We want to see homes that know and understand the difference they are making in children and young people’s lives. It is critical that those with the most complex needs are supported to have positive experiences and make progress. We want to celebrate those homes that are able to make this difference. We recognise that children and young people may have a range of different starting points but that will not stop us having high aspirations for them.

I’d like to thank all who took part in the consultation for their valuable views, which have contributed to strengthening inspection of this significant part of the children’s social care system.

Notes to editors

  1. The inspections of children’s homes consultation responses and the new framework are 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 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.

  3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 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 057 359.

Published 27 February 2015