Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): residential holiday schemes for disabled children

5. Evaluation criteria

The criteria that inspectors use to make judgements, including benchmarks of what good looks like.

5.1 The overall experiences and progress of children and young people

Areas of required evidence are:

  • the quality of individualised care and support provided and the influence and impact of the scheme on children’s progress and enjoyment of their holidays
  • the quality of relationships between professionals, parents, carers and children
  • how well children’s views are understood and taken into account and how their rights and entitlements are met


Children are able to build trusted relationships with adults who are looking after them. Staff and volunteers, who are well informed about children’s needs, listen to children, protect them and promote their welfare. Children make progress and have a range of positive experiences.

Children, including those who communicate non-verbally, are supported to participate in day-to-day decisions about their holidays, as appropriate. They are sensitively helped to understand where it may not be possible to act on their wishes and where other action is taken that is in their best interests.

Children and parents know how to complain. Staff and volunteers understand the ways children express dissatisfaction. The scheme’s complaints policy is understandable, accessible and child-focused. Children and parents understand what has happened as a result of their complaint. Their complaints are treated seriously and are responded to clearly. Urgent action is taken and practice and/or services improve accordingly.

Children enjoy their holidays. They are able to experience a suitable range of activities in keeping with the scope of the scheme. They are supported to engage in faith-based activities if they wish.

Children are supported to develop their independence while protecting themselves from being in unsafe situations or with unsafe people.

Children’s health needs are identified and met. Arrangements for managing medication are safe and effective and promote independence wherever possible.

Specialist help is made available according to the individual needs of children. The help is available as soon as it is needed, at the intensity required and for as long as it is required.

Children are welcomed sensitively with careful and considered planning every time they attend the scheme. When children leave, the holiday staff and volunteers promote positive endings.

Children are helped to manage their own conflicts and difficult feelings through developing positive relationships with staff. There are clear, consistent and appropriate boundaries for children.

Children are treated with dignity and respect. They experience care and/or help that is sensitive and responsive to their individual and diverse needs.

Staff and volunteers place the well-being of individual children at the centre of their practice, irrespective of the challenges they may present. Their achievements are celebrated. Children’s day-to-day needs are met, such as routine, privacy, personal space, nutritious meals, and enjoyable mealtimes.

Staff work proactively and positively with parents to promote meaningful and safe contact and continuity of care, where appropriate. There are no unnecessary restrictions in place.

Requires improvement to be good

The experiences and progress of children are likely to require improvement when the holiday scheme is not yet delivering good help and care for children. The weaknesses identified need to be addressed to fully support children’s experiences and progress and to mitigate risk in the medium and long term. However, there are no serious or widespread failures that mean their welfare is not safeguarded and promoted.


The experiences and progress of children are likely to be judged inadequate if there are serious or widespread failures that mean that children are not protected or that their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded, or that their care and experiences are poor and they are not making progress.


The experiences and progress of children are likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to meeting the requirements of a good judgement, there is evidence of the following.

Professional practice consistently exceeds the standard of good and results in significant and measurable improvement to the lives of children even where they have complex or challenging needs.

The quality, range and accessibility of activity significantly enhances children’s experiences, choices and understanding.

The progress of children is exceptional, taking into account their starting points.

There are examples of excellent practice that could be shared more widely.

Exceptional practice, some of which may be innovative, continues to develop from a strong and confident base and makes an exceptional difference to the lives and experiences of children

5.2 How well children and young people are helped and protected

Areas of required evidence are:

  • how well risks are identified, understood and managed and whether the support and care provided help children and young people to stay safe
  • the response to children who may go missing or may be at risk of harm, including exploitation, neglect, abuse, self-harm, medical conditions, bullying and radicalisation
  • how well staff and carers manage situations and behaviour and whether clear and consistent boundaries contribute to a feeling of well-being and security for children and young people
  • whether safeguarding arrangements to protect children meet all statutory and other government requirements and promote their welfare


Children feel protected and are protected from harm, including neglect, abuse, sexual exploitation, accidents, bullying and radicalisation. There is a strong, robust and proactive response from all those working with children that reduces the risk of harm or actual harm to them. That response includes effective contact and planning with the child’s parents and, where relevant, the allocated social worker.

Children can identify a member of staff or volunteer who they can talk to about any concerns. They report that staff and volunteers listen to them, take their concerns seriously and respond appropriately. Staff and volunteers have the knowledge to understand the different ways children communicate and respond to them promptly.

Children who go missing experience well-coordinated responses that reduce the harm or risk of harm to them. The scheme is aware of, and implements as appropriate, the requirements of the statutory guidance for children who are missing. Risks are well understood and minimised. Parents and carers are made aware of incidents where the child has been or is missing, where this is appropriate and relevant to the plans for their future care. Staff look for children when they are missing.

Plans and risk assessments are timely and address effectively any known vulnerabilities each child may have. Children are supported to take age-appropriate risks that are considered with parents, placing social workers (as appropriate) and children themselves.

Children are protected and helped to keep themselves safe from bullying, homophobic behaviour, racism, sexism, radicalisation and other forms of discrimination. Any discriminatory behaviours are challenged, and help and support is given to children about how to treat others with respect.

Children receive help and support to manage their behaviour and feelings safely. Staff respond with clear boundaries about what is safe and acceptable and seek to understand the triggers for behaviour.

Positive behaviour is promoted consistently. Staff use effective de-escalation techniques and creative alternative strategies that are specific to the needs of each child or young person and designed in consultation with them where possible.

Restraint is used only in strict accordance with the legislative framework to protect the child or young person and those around them. All incidents are reviewed, recorded and monitored and the views of the child sought and understood.

Staff and volunteers understand the risks that use of the internet may pose for children, such as bullying, sexual exploitation or radicalisation. They have well-developed strategies in place to keep children safe and to support them in learning how to keep themselves safe.

Careful recruitment and regular monitoring of staff and volunteers prevent unsuitable people from being recruited and having the opportunity to harm children or to place them at risk. The relevant authorities are informed of any concerns about inappropriate adults.

Staff working for the scheme know and follow procedures for responding to concerns about the safety of a child or young person. Any child protection concerns are immediately shared with the placing and/or host local authority and a record of that referral is retained. There is evidence that staff follow up the outcome of the referral quickly and that appropriate action has been taken to protect the child or young person from further harm. Where the scheme is not satisfied with the response from either the local authority where the holiday is situated or the placing authority, it escalates its concerns, including by writing to the director of children’s services in the local authority placing the child.

Investigations into allegations or suspicion of harm are shared with the appropriate agencies and are handled fairly, quickly and in accordance with statutory guidance. Children are supported and protected. Support is given both to the person making the allegation and the person who is the subject of the allegation.

The holiday scheme has effective links, as appropriate, with the local authority where the holidays are located and with the relevant designated officer. When necessary, there is good communication about safeguarding issues, such as any injuries sustained during restraints or allegations against staff.

The physical environment of the holiday scheme is safe, secure and protects them from harm or the risk of harm. Risk assessments for the physical environment are regularly reviewed and updated.

Plans to meet children’s health needs in an emergency or following an accident are clear at each location the holiday schemes use.

Requires improvement to be good

The help and protection offered to children and young people are likely to require improvement if they are not yet receiving good help and protection, but there are no serious failures that leave them either being harmed or at risk of harm.


The help and protection offered to children and young people are likely to be inadequate if there are serious or widespread failures that leave children being harmed, at risk of harm or with their welfare not being safeguarded.


The help and protection offered to children and young people are likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to meeting the requirements of a good judgement, there is evidence of the following.

Professional practice results in sustained improvement to the lives of children. Highly effective planning manages and minimises risks to children while they are attending the holiday scheme. Where children are attending the scheme for the first time, any risks are well understood and are reducing. Proactive and creative safeguarding practice means that all children, including the most vulnerable, have a strong sense of safety and well-being. Children are involved in creating ways to de-escalate situations and finding creative alternative strategies that are effective.

Exceptional practice, some of which may be innovative, continues to develop from a strong and confident base, making an exceptional difference to the lives and experiences of children.

5.3 The effectiveness of leaders and managers

Areas of required evidence are:

  • whether leaders and managers show an ambitious vision, have high expectations for what all children can achieve and ensure high standards of care
  • whether leaders and managers provide the right supportive environment for staff and volunteers through effective support and high-quality induction and training programmes that are tailored to the specific needs of the children and young people
  • how well leaders and managers understand the scheme’s strengths and weaknesses, prevent shortfalls, identify weaknesses and take decisive and effective action
  • whether the scheme is achieving its stated aims and objectives
  • the quality of professional and family/carer relationships to ensure the best possible all-round support to children and young people in all areas of their development
  • whether leaders and managers actively challenge when the responses from other services are not effective
  • the extent to which leaders and managers actively promote equality and diversity


The scheme is managed effectively and efficiently by a permanent, suitably experienced and qualified registered manager. Urgent action is taken to address any vacancy of the registered manager post.

Each holiday is properly staffed and resourced to meet the needs of the children. Staff and volunteers are suitably vetted. Staff are suitably qualified and are able to deliver high-quality services to children and their families. Arrangements for recruitment are robust.

Leaders and managers actively monitor the quality of care provided. They use learning from practice and feedback to improve the experiences and care of children. Parents and placing authorities, where appropriate, are engaged as necessary. Effective action has been taken to address all requirements and recommendations from previous inspections. Leaders and managers take steps to ensure that plans for individual children comprehensively address their needs. Leaders, staff and volunteers work positively with other agencies and professionals. Leaders and managers seek to build effective working relationships with parents and, where necessary, social workers from placing authorities and with the local authority where the holidays are located to secure positive experiences for children.

Where children are not settling at the scheme, leaders and managers take steps to ensure that the plan is reviewed with the family and/or local authority to consider the best steps to take next. Leaders and managers understand the plans for the children and actively promote children’s enjoyment of their holiday. Leaders and managers can demonstrate the positive impact that the holiday has had on individual children’s lives.

Managers and staff, including volunteers, receive effective supervision and support that focuses on children’s experiences, needs, plans and feedback. Significant issues are recorded effectively.

Training, development and induction activities are effective. They are focused on ensuring that staff and volunteers can meet the specific needs of the children that attend the scheme. Activities are evaluated to ensure that they lead to effective practice. Leaders, managers and staff are up to date with current practice in their specialist area.

The staff and volunteer team works collaboratively to provide consistency and stability. There are clear responsibilities and accountabilities and the staff team has a sense of shared ownership about its practice. Staff report that they are well led and managed and there is other evidence to support this.

Leaders and managers make child-centred decisions about children attending the scheme. They give priority to the safety and stability of the group environment.

The statement of purpose, which is kept under review, clearly sets out the ethos and objectives of the holiday scheme.

All adults who work with children attending the scheme are appropriately trained, supervised and supported to undertake their roles effectively and to provide a high-quality service that enhances the experiences of children.

The registered person ensures that notifications of all significant events that relate to the welfare and protection of children attending the scheme are made to the appropriate authorities. The registered person takes the necessary action following the incident to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that they are safe and protected.

The culture of the scheme is characterised by high expectations and aspirations for all children. The ethos and objectives of the scheme are demonstrated in practice.

Leaders and managers regularly review and act on any known risks to children, taking advice and guidance from local partners and agencies.

Staff are accessible to parents, who are kept informed about their child’s stay.

Requires improvement to be good

The effectiveness of leaders and managers is likely to require improvement if the characteristics of good leadership and management are not in place. Where there are weaknesses in practice, leaders and managers have identified the issues and have plans in place to address them or they are less serious and there is capacity to take the necessary action.


The judgement on the effectiveness of leaders and managers will be inadequate if there is evidence of the following.

There is no registered manager during the periods the scheme is operational and the absence of a manager risks the safety and welfare of children and young people.

The experiences, progress or protection of children are inadequate and leaders and managers do not know the strengths and weaknesses of the scheme; they have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.

The scheme fails to work effectively in partnership with others in the best interests of children.


The effectiveness of leaders and managers is likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to meeting the requirements of a good judgement, there is evidence of the following.

Leaders and managers are inspirational, confident, ambitious for children and influential in improving the experiences of those in their care.

Leaders and managers create a culture of aspiration and positivity and have high expectations of their staff to ensure that all children attending the scheme have high-quality, enjoyable holidays.

They lead by example, innovate and generate creative ideas to sustain the highest quality care for children

They know their strengths and weaknesses well and can provide evidence that they take prompt action to promote improvement for current and future schemes.