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

2. The inspection principles

Focusing on children, being consistent, and prioritising resources.

Ofsted’s corporate strategy outlines how we will conduct inspection and regulation that is:

  • intelligent: all of our work will be evidence-led and we will work to ensure that our evaluation tools and frameworks will be valid and reliable
  • responsible: our frameworks will be fair and we will seek to reduce inspection burdens and make our expectations and findings clear
  • focused: we will target our time and resources where they can lead directly to improvement

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

2.1 To focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives

We have reached a general consensus with the main social care stakeholders that social care inspections should focus on the experiences and progress of children. We regularly ask children, and the adults who look after them, what matters most about children’s experiences and progress. Using this to guide us, we focus the criteria for our judgements on the difference that providers are making to children’s lives. Adults can only support children well if they’re given the time, resources and information they need to do this, so we also take account of the quality of the support that the adults who care for children receive.

2.2 To be consistent in our expectations of providers

It’s important that professionals and members of the public can compare services that do similar things. We make this possible by being consistent in what we expect from providers. We make our expectations consistent by basing our judgements on criteria that share the same underlying principles and focus. We also use inspection methods and publish guidance that only differ where there is a good reason. This includes taking a similar approach to deciding on the frequency of inspections.

2.3 To prioritise inspection where improvement is needed most

We are committed to inspecting in a way that focuses our resources where they are needed most. If leaders and managers have shown that they can consistently deliver services for children well, we may decide to return less often or do a more proportionate inspection. However, we always take into account the risk to children of not inspecting as frequently. We use a broad range of information to tell us whether standards are slipping. We are always able to go back to good and outstanding providers more quickly if we have concerns.