The length of notice given before an inspection and the information we request.
8.1 Notice of an inspection
Independent fostering agencies are notified of an inspection 2 working days before the inspection. Notice will usually be given on a Thursday before the fieldwork starts on the next Monday morning.
Ofsted will usually give notice by 9 am by email. The lead inspector will follow up the next morning with a telephone call to the agency. The email letter of notice sets out practical arrangements for the inspection, including the information requirements. The inspector’s follow-up telephone call (and other calls between the agency and inspector that may be necessary during the period of notice) will provide the opportunity to discuss further the plans for the inspection, including the inspection timetable.
We ask agencies to give the inspector access to premises, records and space for the inspector to work. Inspectors may need some help to navigate the system where records are electronic. Agencies don’t need to provide files in hard copy unless these are already used by the service, although the inspector may ask for specific reports or documents to be printed.
8.2 Request for information at an inspection
When notification of an inspection is given, inspectors request the following information from the agency:
- details of meetings that will take place during the inspection that the inspector may be able to attend
- information about the agency’s current approved carers and applicants, those being assessed and those who have applied, so that the inspector can choose which records and cases to track and sample
- the last 3 sets of fostering panel minutes
The agency may choose to update any data previously given to Ofsted.
This information is requested under section 31 of the Care Standards Act 2000. It supports the inspection process and informs the inspection findings and it may generate supplementary lines of enquiry. All information should be returned to the inspector by 4pm on the day that notice is given.
Some of the information is stored by Ofsted for data analysis purposes. No personal data is stored.