2. The inspection principles
Focusing on children, being consistent, and prioritising resources.
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 use the same judgement structure and the same evaluation criteria, wherever possible, irrespective of where children live or receive help.
Our inspection methods and published guidance 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 our work where improvement is needed most
We focus resources where they are needed most. If leaders and managers have shown 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.