Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): residential provision of further education colleges

8. Scheduling and the inspection team

How an inspection is scheduled and who makes up the team.

8.1 Frequency of inspection

Ofsted usually conducts an inspection of the residential provision of an FE college at least once every 3 years.

Where provision is either inadequate or requires improvement, we usually carry out a monitoring visit and re-inspect within 2 years. Ofsted reserves the right to conduct unannounced inspections or monitoring visits without notifying in advance.

The frequency of inspections of residential provision in colleges is not prescribed by law. This is a matter of policy for Ofsted.

8.2 Scheduling

The scheduling of inspections takes account of:

  • previous inspection findings
  • complaints and concerns about the service
  • returned questionnaires from young people, parents, social workers and other stakeholders
  • information given, or concerns raised, by a funding body, employers, parents, carers or learners
  • monitoring visits
  • published data

8.3 Length of inspection

For a full inspection of an FE college’s residential provision, up to 2 inspectors usually spend a total of 2 days on site, spread over 3 days.

The lead inspector and the regulatory inspection manager (RIM) should decide how best to allocate resources for inspections. If necessary, the RIM can agree to either the inspector spending additional days on site or more inspectors being brought on the inspection, or fewer, particularly if there are fewer than 10 students living on site.

Inspectors should consider:

  • whether the amount of time on site should be reduced for inspections of provision with a very small number of young people resident at the college
  • whether additional resources, for example more inspectors, or more time, should be arranged for:
    • larger residential colleges
    • colleges with a wide geographical spread
    • where there are specific issues such as a serious incident to consider

8.4 Deferrals

Inspections will not normally be deferred. Absence or unavailability of staff (unless the provider is a single person) or accommodation issues such as refurbishment will not usually be reasons for deferral. If no staff are available, the inspector should contact the responsible individual or person in charge to arrange access.

An inspection will only be deferred when it might place young people or others at risk if it goes ahead or if the ability to gather secure evidence is severely restricted. These conditions might include:

  • serious weather conditions that make access to sites difficult or dangerous or both
  • a serious incident where the presence of an inspector would have an adverse impact on the safety and well-being of young people or adults

Decisions about deferrals are agreed by the regulatory inspection manager (RIM).