Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): children’s homes

Guidance on how Ofsted inspects children's homes.

Applies to England



This framework sets out Ofsted’s process for inspecting children’s homes.

Our approach is underpinned by the following 3 principles that apply to all social care inspections:

  • to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives
  • to be consistent in our expectations of providers
  • to prioritise our work where improvement is needed most
Published 22 February 2017
Last updated 8 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Clarification on the focus of assurance inspections in the 'Assurance inspection findings’ section.

  2. Minor changes to the evaluation criteria to align, where applicable, with other framework changes on children’s progress and experiences, the management of risk, the use of restraint and the need to appoint a registered manager, if the post is vacant, within 26 weeks. Small changes to guidance for inspectors on recording evidence in the inspection database, including corrected Annex As. Clarification on the time inspectors spend on site for inspections of residential special schools which are also registered as children’s homes. Additional guidance for the inspector to inform the Children’s Commissioner when the inspection judgement is inadequate.

  3. Minor edits for clarity in the 'Frequency of inspections', 'Scheduling' and 'Monitoring visit' sections. Revised text referencing the updated 'Ofsted code of conduct' policy.

  4. Added inspection guidance for April 2022: replaced interim inspections with assurance inspections; clarified guidance on inspecting multi-building children’s homes; made minor amends to the evaluation criteria and added additional guidance for when inspectors discover possible unregistered provision.

  5. Updated the ‘Frequency of inspections’ section in response to the newly published Regulations which are effective from 1 October 2021. Also, in ‘The inspection report’ section, added clarification on the non-publication of child-friendly summary reports.

  6. Removed guidance on assurance visits, as we are no longer carrying these out.

  7. Updated guidance to reflect the changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling (including the timeline) that we introduced in September 2020. Reference added to the frequency of inspections being subject to consultation. Added guidance on inspecting children’s homes during COVID-19 restrictions. Minor edits for readability.

  8. First published.