4. How inspectors make judgements under the SCCIF
Information about the judgements.
4.1 Judgement structure
Our judgement structure stems from our first principle of inspection – to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives – and places the progress and experiences of children and other people who use children’s services at the core of inspections.
All SCCIF inspections follow the 4-point scale (outstanding, good, requires improvement to be good, and inadequate) to make judgements on the:
- overall experiences and progress of children and young people, taking into account:
- how well children and young people are helped and protected
- the effectiveness of leaders and managers
Inspections of adoption support agencies, voluntary adoption agencies and residential family centres also look at, as appropriate, the experiences of adult service users.
The judgement about how well children and young people are helped and protected is a limiting judgement. This means that if inspectors judge this area to be inadequate, then the ‘overall experiences and progress’ judgement will always be inadequate.
The judgement of the effectiveness of leaders and managers is a graded judgement. If inspectors judge this area to be inadequate, this is likely to lead to a judgement of inadequate, and certainly no more than requires improvement, for ‘overall experiences and progress’.
Inspectors will make the limiting and graded judgements first so that they can take these into account for the ‘overall progress and experiences’ judgement.
For inspections of secure children’s homes, inspectors make an additional judgement on outcomes in education and related learning activities. Guidance is available.
4.2 How inspectors use the evaluation criteria
Inspectors will use the descriptions of what ‘good’ looks like as the benchmarks against which to grade and judge performance. The judgement, however, is not derived from a checklist. It is a professional evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of the care and support provided on the experiences and progress of children and young people. Failure to meet all of the criteria for ‘good’ will not automatically lead to a judgement of ‘requires improvement’.
Some criteria will have less relevance than others in some settings because of the nature of the setting and the needs of the children and young people.
Even when all the criteria are relevant, there is always a degree of professional judgement in weighing and balancing evidence against the evaluation criteria.
The inspector judges a setting to be good if they conclude that the evidence sits most appropriately with this finding. We call this the ‘best fit’.
The evaluation criteria for SCCIF inspections are broadly consistent across different types of setting but, where necessary, they have been adapted to reflect the varying and unique nature of each type of provision.
4.3 Required evidence
Inspectors look at several areas of required evidence for each judgement. Some areas are common to all SCCIF inspections but others are specific to the specific type of provision. The areas of required evidence are set out in the bullet points at the beginning of the evaluation criteria for each judgement.
Inspectors always report on each of these areas unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.