5. Evaluation criteria
The criteria that inspectors use to make judgements, including benchmarks of what good looks like for the 3 areas of inspection.
5.1 The overall experiences and progress of young people
Areas of required evidence are:
- quality of individual care and support
- quality of relationships between professionals, staff and young people
- progress relating to health, education, and emotional, social and psychological well-being
- how well their views are understood and taken into account
- quality of daily life
- how well they are prepared for their futures and how well transitions are managed
Young people are able to build trusted and secure relationships with the adults who look after them. Residential staff know young people well, listen to them, spend time with them, protect them and promote their welfare. Young people, including those with host families or in lodgings, are able to develop an appropriate sense of belonging. They make progress and have a range of positive experiences.
Young people, including those who communicate non-verbally, are given support to make day-to-day and complex decisions about their lives. They are given guidance where a course of action is in their best interests, and sensitively helped to understand where it isn’t possible to act on their wishes. Young people have access to, and are encouraged to involve, an independent advocate and, where appropriate, an independent visitor.
Young people know how to complain. The college’s complaints policy is easy to understand and accessible. Young people understand what has happened as a result of their complaint. Their complaints are treated seriously and responded to clearly. Urgent action is taken, and practice and services improve as a result.
Young people attend their education and training sessions punctually and are well prepared. They are learning effectively and making good progress from their starting points. Staff are ambitious for young people and support them to attend and do well in their education. There is effective liaison between the residential provision, teaching staff and college leaders.
Young people enjoy a range of social, educational and recreational opportunities. They are supported to engage in faith-based activities if they wish.
Young people are supported to develop independence according to their individual needs. They are shown how to protect themselves from being in unsafe situations or with unsafe people.
Young people are in good health, or being helped to improve their health, or to manage lifelong conditions. Their health needs (including sexual and mental health) are identified. They have access to local health services. Arrangements for managing medication are safe and effective and promote independence wherever possible. Staff develop effective relationships with health professionals to promote good health.
Specialist help is available according to the individual needs of young people. The help is available as soon as it is needed, at the intensity required and for as long as required. If services aren’t available, or a young person is waiting for a long time for help, staff are proactive in challenging and escalating concerns with the placing authority or other partners.
Young people who are new, including those with host families or in lodgings, are welcomed. Newcomers are received sensitively and with careful and considered planning.
Young people are treated with dignity and respect. They experience care that is responsive to their identity and family history including age, disability, ethnicity, faith or belief, gender, gender identity, language, race and sexual orientation.
They are helped to develop a positive self-view. The care they receive increases their ability to form and sustain relationships, build emotional resilience and develop a sense of their own identity. It helps them overcome any previous experiences of neglect and trauma.
Staff place the well-being of individual young people at the centre of their practice. Their achievements are celebrated.
Daily needs are met, such as routine, privacy, personal space, and nutritious food at regular mealtimes.
Staff encourage young people to have appropriate contact (direct or indirect) with family, friends and other people important to them. There are no unnecessary restrictions in place.
There are good opportunities for young people to express views. In addition, they’re able to take some responsibility for how their accommodation, pastoral support and social activities are run.
Requires improvement to be good
The experiences and progress of young people are likely to require improvement when the college is not yet delivering good help and care for young people.
The weaknesses identified need to be addressed to fully support their progress and experience and to mitigate risk in the medium and long term.
However, there are no serious or widespread failures that result in their welfare not being safeguarded and promoted.
The experiences and progress of young people are likely to be judged inadequate if there are serious or widespread failures that mean young people are not protected, or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded, or if their care and experiences are poor and they are not making progress.
The experiences and progress of young people are likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to the requirements of good, there is evidence of the following.
There is evidence that professional practice consistently exceeds the standard of good and results in sustained improvement to the lives of young people even where young people have complex or challenging needs.
There is significant evidence of change and improvement for young people because of the actions of the staff working at the college; the progress of young people is exceptional taking into account their starting points.
The experience of living at the college enhances young people’s life chances. For young people with the most complex needs, staff are able to evidence the sustained benefit they have had in making a difference to the lives of young people in their care. There are examples of excellent practice that could be shared.
Research-informed 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 young people.
5.2 How well 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 young people be increasingly safe
- the response to young people who may go missing or be at risk of harm, including exploitation, neglect, abuse, self-harm, bullying and radicalisation
- how well staff manage situations and behaviour and whether clear and consistent boundaries contribute to a feeling of well-being and security for young people
- whether safeguarding arrangements to protect young people meet all statutory and other government requirements, and promote their welfare
Young people 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 young people that reduces harm or the risk of harm to them, including self-harm. That response includes regular and effective contact and planning with the young person’s family or, if relevant, their allocated social worker.
Young people can identify a trusted adult they can talk to about any concerns. They report that adults listen to them, take their concerns seriously and respond appropriately.
Any risks associated with young people offending, misusing drugs or alcohol, self-harming, going missing or being sexually exploited are known and understood by the staff who look after them. Individual, up-to-date risk assessments address any known vulnerabilities for each young person effectively and set out what action should be taken to address the risks. There are plans in place to reduce the risk of harm and there is evidence that these risks are being minimised.
Young people who go missing from the residential provision experience well co-ordinated responses that reduce harm or the risk of harm to them. Risks are well understood and minimised.
Staff are aware of, and implement in full, the requirements of the statutory guidance for young people who are missing. They take appropriate steps to escalate concerns. Parents and carers are made aware of incidents where the young person has been or is missing where this is appropriate. Staff look for young people when they are missing.
Young people 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 support is given to young people about how to treat others with respect.
Young people receive help and support to manage their behaviour and feelings safely. Staff looking after them 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 young person and designed in consultation with them where possible.
Restraint is used only in strict accordance with the legislative framework to protect the young person and those around them. All incidents are reviewed, recorded and monitored and the views of the young person are sought and understood.
Conflict management is effective and includes the appropriate use of restorative practices that improve relationships, increase young people’s sense of personal responsibility and reduce the need for formal police intervention.
Proactive and effective working relationships with the police help to support and protect young people.
Staff understand the risks that use of the internet may pose for young people, such as bullying, sexual exploitation or radicalisation. They have well-developed strategies in place to keep young people safe online and to support them in learning how to keep themselves safe.
Any searches of young people, their rooms and possessions are carried out sensitively by appropriately trained staff with due consideration given to their need to feel safe and to have their dignity and needs respected. All searches are appropriately recorded, including the reasons for the search, efforts to seek the young person’s consent, any risk assessment and management oversight of the decision to undertake a search.
Careful recruitment and regular monitoring of staff and volunteers prevent unsuitable people from being recruited and having the opportunity to harm young people or to place them at risk. The relevant authorities are informed of any concerns about inappropriate adults.
Staff working within the residential provision, including the designated safeguarding lead, know and follow procedures for responding to concerns about the safety of a young person. Any child protection concerns are immediately shared as required with the host or placing local authority. 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 young person from further harm. Where the college is not satisfied with the response from either its own local authority or the placing authority, they escalate their concerns appropriately, including by writing to the director of children’s services in the local authority placing the young person (if relevant).
Investigations into allegations or suspicion of harm are shared with the appropriate agencies and are handled fairly, quickly and in accordance with statutory guidance. Young people are supported and protected. Support is given both to the person making the allegation and the person who is the subject of the allegation.
Staff have effective links with local authorities, designated officers and other safeguarding agencies. There is good communication about safeguarding issues, such as any injuries sustained during restraints or allegations against staff. Staff have good relationships with relevant local voluntary sector organisations that may be able to offer specialist support to young people in keeping themselves safe.
The physical environment for young people is safe and secure and protects them from harm or the risk of harm. Risk assessments for the physical environment are regularly reviewed and updated and comply with statutory requirements.
Requires improvement to be good
The help and protection offered to 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 young people are likely to be inadequate if there are serious or widespread failures that mean young people are not protected, or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded, or if their care, support and experiences are poor and they are not making progress.
The help and protection offered to young people are likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to the requirements of good, there is evidence of the following.
- Highly effective planning manages and minimises risks inside and outside of the college.
- Proactive and creative safeguarding practice means that all young people, including the most vulnerable, have a strong sense of safety and well-being and they are unlikely to be missing from the college on a regular basis.
- Young people are involved in creating ways to de-escalate situations and finding creative alternative strategies that are effective.
- Research-informed 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 young people.
5.3 The effectiveness of leaders and managers, including governors
Areas of required evidence are:
- whether leaders and managers show an ambitious vision, have high expectations for what all young people can achieve and ensure high standards of individualised care
- leaders and managers have a clear understanding of the progress that young people are making and take effective action when necessary
- whether leaders and managers provide the right supportive environment for staff through effective supervision and appraisal and high quality induction and training programmes, tailored to the specific needs of the young people
- how well leaders and managers understand the provision’s strengths and weaknesses, prevent shortfalls, identify weaknesses and take effective action
- whether the provision is achieving its stated aims and objectives
- the quality of professional relationships to ensure the best possible all-round support to 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 tolerance, equality and diversity
The residential provision is properly staffed and resourced to meet the needs of the young people in residence. The staff team is suitably vetted and qualified and are able to deliver high quality services to young people. Arrangements for recruitment and appraisals are robust.
Leaders and managers regularly monitor the quality of help and support. They use learning from practice and feedback to improve the experiences and progress of young people. This includes, for example, direct testimony from young people, parents, residential staff, teaching staff, host families and others. They learn from complaints, staff feedback, placement successes and breakdowns, and any serious events. They identify strengths and areas for improvement and implement clear development plans that improve the experiences and progress of young people. Action is taken to address all issues of concern, including concerns or complaints from young people, parents, and local residents. Proper investigations are undertaken. Local authorities are engaged as necessary. Effective action has been taken to address all recommendations from previous inspections.
Leaders and managers ensure that plans for individual young people comprehensively address their needs. Leaders and staff work proactively and positively with other agencies and professionals. They seek to build effective working relationships with parents and social workers from placing authorities and with the local authority where they are located to secure positive outcomes for young people.
Where young people are not settling into the residential provision, leaders and managers take effective action.
Leaders and managers monitor the progress that each young person makes and can demonstrate the positive impact that the residential provision has had on their progress and life opportunities.
Managers and staff receive regular and effective supervision that is focused on young people’s experiences, needs, plans and feedback. There is effective support and challenge, including through team and management meetings, to ensure that the professional development of staff and leaders results in the right environment for good practice to thrive. The emotional impact of the work on staff is recognised and managed well by leaders and managers.
Training, development and induction activities are focused on making sure the college can meet the specific needs of the young people. Activities are evaluated to ensure they lead to effective practice. Leaders, managers and staff are up to date with current practice in their specialist area.
The staff 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 ensure the physical environment is maintained to a high standard, meets the needs of young people, and feels and looks like a welcoming home. Any damage or wear and tear is quickly and regularly repaired.
Volunteers who work with young people in residence are trained, supervised and supported to carry out their roles and provide a high quality service that enhances the experiences of young people.
The college ensures that information about significant events relating to welfare and protection is shared with the appropriate authorities and individuals. Leaders and managers take the necessary action following the incident to ensure young people’s needs are met and that they are safe and protected.
The ethos and objectives of the residential provision is characterised by high expectations and aspirations for all young people. This is demonstrated in practice.
Leaders and managers regularly review and act on any known risks to young people, taking advice and guidance from local partners and agencies.
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 is inadequate if there is evidence of the following.
The experiences, progress or protection of young people are inadequate, and leaders and managers do not know the strengths and weaknesses of the home. They have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.
The college fails to work effectively in partnership with others in the best interests of young people.
The effectiveness of leaders and managers is likely to be judged outstanding if, in addition to the requirements of good, there is evidence of the following.
Leaders and managers are inspirational, confident, ambitious for young people and influential in changing the lives of those in their care.
They create a culture of aspiration and positivity and have high expectations of their staff to change and improve the lives of the young people they are responsible for.
They lead by example, innovate and generate creative ideas to sustain the highest quality care for young people.
They know their strengths and weaknesses well and can provide evidence of improvement over a sustained period.
They develop and maintain professional relationships between the agency and partner agencies that ensure the best possible care, experiences and futures for young people.