9. Scheduling and the inspection team
How an inspection is scheduled and who makes up the team.
9.1 Frequency of inspection
We have a duty to inspect adoption support agencies at least once in each 3-year inspection cycle (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) (Children’s Homes etc.) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 2015/551)).
The scheduling of inspections takes into account:
- legal requirements
- previous inspection findings
- complaints and concerns about the service
- returned questionnaires from children, young people, foster carers, social workers and other stakeholders
- monitoring reports given to Ofsted by adoption support agencies under regulation 24 of The Adoption Support Agencies (England) and Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2005
Where possible, the same inspectors will not inspect an agency for more than 3 consecutive inspection cycles. However, in certain instances, for example, if Ofsted is taking enforcement action, it may be important for continuity purposes to retain the same inspectors until the enforcement action has been concluded.
9.3 Length of inspection
For a full inspection of an adoption support agency, 1 inspector usually spends 2 days on site, which may be spread over 3 days. If an adoption support agency is a single person working from their home address, the time on site is likely to be reduced.
The inspector and the regulatory inspection manager (RIM) should determine how best to allocate resources for inspections. If it is necessary, the RIM should agree to either the inspector spending additional days on site or additional inspectors being deployed on the inspection.
Inspectors should consider:
- whether the amount of time on site should be reduced for inspections of small adoption support agencies
- whether additional resources, such as more inspectors or more time on site or both, should be deployed for:
- inspections of larger agencies
- agencies with a wide geographical spread
- where there are specific issues, such as a serious incident, to consider
Inspections will not normally be deferred. Absence or unavailability of key staff (unless the provider is a single person) or accommodation issues such as refurbishment will not usually be reasons for deferral. If no staff are available, the inspector should contact the responsible individual or person in charge to arrange access.
An inspection will only be deferred when it might place children or others at risk if it goes ahead or if the ability to gather secure evidence is severely restricted. These conditions might include:
- serious weather conditions that make access to sites difficult or dangerous or both
- a serious incident where the presence of an inspector would have an adverse impact on the safety and well-being of children, young people or adults
Decisions about deferrals are agreed by the regulatory inspection manager (RIM).