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

18. Monitoring visits

Information about monitoring visits.

Monitoring visits are carried out according to the general principles of the SCCIF. Monitoring visits are usually undertaken:

  • to follow up concerns
  • following an inadequate inspection
  • at the request of the Department for Education (DfE)

18.1 Timing and frequency

The decision to carry out a monitoring visit is usually taken at a case review, or at the request of the DfE. The frequency of monitoring visits is decided on a case-by-case basis and may be as frequent as weekly if that is what is needed. Timing and frequency are determined by the nature of the concerns. This is agreed and recorded at the case review.

The inspector will tell the school that it is the subject of monitoring. Monitoring visits are usually unannounced.

Following the monitoring visit, we will send a report detailing the outcome of the visit. This report may be published on our website alongside the inspection reports or withheld at the request of the DfE.

18.2 Preparing for the monitoring visit

When preparing for a monitoring visit, inspectors take into account:

  • the last inspection report
  • recommendations set at the last inspection report
  • letters from previous monitoring inspections
  • any action plan provided by the school
  • any information recorded on the inspection database, including information from other agencies; for example, police, designated officer, complaints and whistle blows
  • any action that should be monitored at the request of the DfE

18.3 How inspectors carry out monitoring visits

The monitoring visit should:

  • determine the impact of any completed recommendations on the welfare and outcomes for children and young people
  • identify whether any additional concerns exist
  • determine the capacity of the principal/head of boarding to sustain the changes required
  • consider any further action that may need to be taken

The inspector must notify either the principal or head of boarding on arrival on site.

The inspector should judge how effective the improvement is and how tackling the recommendations/issues has improved the experiences and progress of children and young people. To demonstrate the necessary improvement, the school need to show that its actions have had a significant impact in achieving clear and sustainable progress. Good intentions and an aspirational outlook, or a recent change of leader following a period of poor leadership, do not in themselves provide sufficient proof of the ability of the school to sustain improvement.

If it becomes clear that there are further issues of concern or that in tackling the actions from the last inspection the school has let other aspects slip so children are at risk of harm or are not making sufficient progress, then the inspector should consider what further action needs to be taken. This includes considering new recommendations or notification to the DfE.

If the inspector is concerned or unsure about any aspect of the visit, they can contact their manager or a social care compliance inspector.

18.4 How inspectors gather evidence in a monitoring visit

The key questions inspectors investigate are:

  • How effective is the action taken by the provider to meet the recommendations set at the last inspection?
  • How effective is the action the provider has taken to improve the experiences and progress of children and young people?

Evidence should be recorded in the inspection database. The evidence should reflect the areas for improvement that were identified in the inspection report. This section should include evidence of the most significant strengths and weaknesses and any new areas of improvement or breaches of NMS that need to be taken forward. The inspector must decide whether the setting has let other aspects slip so there is now cause for concern in different areas.

Inspectors must decide whether the school demonstrates its capacity to sustain any improvements it has made. Inspectors should also decide whether the improvements are having a marked and sustained impact on all areas of weakness.

18.5 Feedback at the end of the monitoring visit

The inspector provides verbal feedback to the school at the end of the visit. The inspector must:

  • make clear any new issue(s) to take forward
  • ensure that the school is clear about the outcome of the visit and what the next steps will be, especially if a new issue has arisen or improvement is inadequate
  • be clear with the school when the next steps will be confirmed if the inspector requires further advice
  • explain that the outcome of a monitoring visit is usually published in the form of a report on the Ofsted website alongside the last report, unless requested by the DfE
  • make clear that the text of the report may differ slightly from the oral feedback, but that the substance of the issues will not change
  • ensure that the school understands that the overall judgement of inadequate has not changed (where relevant), although progress and improvements may have been made

18.6 Monitoring report

Ofsted will usually publish all monitoring reports on its website, although RIMs or DfE can decide not to publish monitoring reports in exceptional circumstances.

The summary of the reports should outline any significant developments and evidence of progress that has occurred since the last visit. The summary must clearly explain the action the school has taken to address the previous recommendations and the impact of any improvement on the experiences and progress of children.

The report must:

  • set out the reason for the visit
  • evaluate where progress has been made and where progress has not been made
  • clearly state the impact of continued concerns on children and young people, alongside any action that Ofsted will be taking to notify placing local authorities, DfE and/or to protect children
  • set out clearly where and what further action is needed

Inspectors must use clear language to indicate the level of concern; for example, ‘this visit has raised serious concerns about care and practice in the school’. Inspectors can clearly state that the school is likely to be subject to further action where this is the case.

18.7 Review and factual accuracy check of the report

Monitoring evidence bases will be reviewed by the RIMs before they are sent to the school or published. This is to ensure that they accurately reflect the improvement made or support any further enforcement action we may wish to take.

The school has an opportunity to check the factual accuracy of a monitoring report.

Monitoring reports should usually be published within 28 working days of the visit.