Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): boarding schools and residential special schools

14. Inadequate judgements: next steps

What happens following inadequate judgements, including urgent case reviews.

A judgement of inadequate for the overall experiences and progress of young people will lead to an urgent case discussion between the lead inspector and the regulatory inspection manager (RIM). The placing authority in this context is the authority funding the placement.

14.1 The case review

The case review must record:

  • actions to be taken
  • that the director of children’s services (DCS) of the authority where the school is based must be notified
  • that the Education Funding Agency (if relevant) has been notified
  • that Ofsted has alerted the local authorities that have funded placements, to the concerns that have been identified; where a large number of placing authorities fund placements, the case review should discuss arrangements for obtaining the identities of the placing authorities from the school; and plans for Ofsted to make contact with each one
  • that the DCS of the host authority and of any placing local authorities will be emailed about the provisional outcome of the inspection, including the main concerns, in line with the feedback given to the school

The indicative judgement and inspection feedback should be sent to the DCS by the end of the working day following the case review. The school must be sent a copy of the email sent to the DCS of the relevant local authorities, so that it is aware of the information shared. Details of the emails must be recorded on the inspection database for future reference.

The case review should take place at the earliest time possible and no later than 2 working days after the end of the inspection. If this timescale is not met, the specific reasons for the delay should be recorded. In some boarding schools and residential special schools, parents are responsible for placing and funding the placements. This may include children who have been placed from other countries. In this situation, there is no need to inform the local authority where the child would normally live. Where children have been placed by parents, the case review decides whether Ofsted needs to contact the parents immediately or whether it is appropriate to delay until the report has been finalised. Ofsted asks the school to confirm the date it has sent the inspection report to all parents.

14.2 For independent schools and non-maintained special schools residential only

Following the case review, the inspector completes and sends Form A to the senior Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) (social care), who will consider and, as appropriate, agree the actions and send the form to Ofsted’s independent schools team to log and share with the Department for Education (DfE).

Inadequate judgements: next steps for independent schools and non-maintained special schools (residential only)

The DfE is the registration authority for independent schools and approves non-maintained special schools (NMSS). However, under section 87 of the Children Act 1989, it is HMCI’s duty to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to enable her to determine whether the welfare of children accommodated in boarding schools is adequately safeguarded and promoted. Each region should decide following an inadequate judgement whether to carry out a further section 87 inspection if they continue to have concerns about the welfare of children accommodated at the school. The DfE should be informed of the inspection, so that this does not disrupt any action they are taking, and the outcome of the inspection.

It is essential that each Ofsted region works proactively with the DfE to ensure that both organisations are aware of each other’s actions and work together to safeguard children.

Following an inadequate judgement, the region must hold a case review. After the case review, the inspector should complete and send Form A to the social care SHMI who considers and, as appropriate, agrees the actions following the case review and sends Form A to Ofsted’s independent schools team to log and send to the DfE.

The region can carry out any monitoring visits and/or full inspections they consider to be appropriate in order to be satisfied that children are safe or that either any risk has reduced or there is no longer a risk.

On receipt of the inspection report, the DfE requests from the school an action plan setting out how the school intends to address the breaches in the NMS. The DfE sends this plan to Ofsted to evaluate and then may request that the region undertakes a progress monitoring visit. If the DfE does not request a progress monitoring visit, Ofsted may still carry out a visit to be satisfied that children’s welfare is safeguarded. The DfE may also issue a ‘notice’ or take steps to remove the school from the register of schools or place restrictions, for example close the boarding facilities or limit admissions.

The region should notify the DfE using Form A:

  • that the school was judged inadequate
  • giving a summary of the reasons why
  • a RAG rated assessment of the risk
  • of the agreement that the region will evaluate the effectiveness of the action plan from the school requested by the DfE and carry out a progress monitoring visit
  • details of any additional action the region intends to take, including further inspections and monitoring visits and that they will notify the DfE of the outcome of any additional visits
  • any other information the region should share with the DfE

For independent schools judged inadequate on integrated inspections

Following an inadequate overall judgement for both the education and the boarding/residential provision, the lead inspectors will discuss and agree action in a case review. The education lead completes Form A about the education provision and the social care inspector will complete Form A for the care inspection.

On receipt of the reports, the DfE may request from the school an action plan setting out how the school intends to address the breaches in the NMS/independent schools standards. The DfE sends the action plan to Ofsted to evaluate and then may request that the region undertakes a progress monitoring visit. If the DfE does not request a progress monitoring visit, Ofsted can undertake a visit to ensure that children’s welfare is safeguarded. The DfE may also issue a notice or take steps to remove the school from the register of schools or place restrictions for example close the boarding or limit admissions.

The region can undertake such monitoring visits and/or full inspections they consider to be appropriate in order to be satisfied that children are safe or that any risk has reduced.

If the failings relate solely to education provision, education inspection colleagues will follow relevant procedures. If the school is not seen to be making sufficient progress, the region should undertake a full inspection. Following this inspection, if the judgement is requires improvement to be good, Ofsted agrees the date of the next full inspection based on a risk assessment and notifies the DfE of its intentions. The timescale should be no more than 1 year after a judgement of requires improvement at a boarding school and within the annual cycle for a residential special school.

If the judgement is good, Ofsted will agree the date of the next full inspection based on a risk assessment and notify the DfE of its intentions. The timescale should be no more than 2 years after an inadequate judgement at a boarding school and within the annual cycle for a residential special school.

The timing of the next inspection must be based on a risk assessment and recorded in the inspection database. If the school continues to place children at risk, or is making insufficient progress or remains non-compliant, the process for an inadequate judgement is followed and the DfE is notified. The DfE may:

  • issue an enforcement notice
  • request an action plan from the school and ask Ofsted to evaluate it
  • request an education or integrated inspection
  • request that Ofsted carries out a progress monitoring visit to check compliance with un-met national minimum standards (NMS)

Following a further inspection, if progress is good, Ofsted will agree the date of the next full inspection with the DfE. The timescale will be agreed with the DfE, but should be no more than 2 years after an inadequate judgement at a boarding school and within the annual cycle for a residential special school. The timing of the next inspection must be based on a risk assessment and recorded in the inspection database.

If the school is not making enough progress or remains non-compliant at the inspection, the process for an inadequate judgement is followed.

14.3 Maintained schools, state boarding schools and pupil referral units (PRUs)

Maintained schools, state boarding schools and most PRUs are the responsibility of the local authority. Ofsted has lead responsibility for taking action. The case review will consider the most appropriate action to take.

Ofsted asks the school for an action plan and to confirm when it sent the report to parents.

The lead SCRI evaluates the action plan and a monitoring inspection is carried out no later than 3 months after the inadequate inspection. The monitoring inspection is subject to a case review on completion.

If progress is good, the next full inspection should take place no later than 1 year after the inadequate inspection.

If progress is inadequate, further action should be considered and agreed. This may include a meeting with the local authority and a further monitoring inspection, depending on the level of risk to children. If not already carried out, an integrated inspection should be considered. This may place the school in special measures and, if required, the Secretary of State can take action to close the school and/or the boarding/residential provision.

14.4 Academies and free schools

Academies and free schools are the responsibility of the DfE under the terms of their respective funding agreements. The DfE can withdraw funding if there are concerns about the school. Ofsted takes the lead in determining the next steps in consultation with the relevant teams at the DfE.

14.5 Maintained schools and academies, free schools and PRUs (integrated inspections)

If no failings relate to the boarding/residential provision, there is no requirement to inform the local authority where the school is situated or the placing authorities. A copy of the report is sent to the local authority where the school is located for maintained schools and academy/free school reports also go to the regional schools commissioner.

If failings relate to boarding/residential provision only, the process for residential-only inspections should be followed.

If the school is judged inadequate overall with concerns relating to both the education and the boarding/residential provision, then the case review should include the both social care and education inspectors and senior HMI. The review agrees the frequency of follow-up and monitoring visits and any further actions.