Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): secure children’s homes

9. Notice

The length of notice given before an inspection and the information we request.

9.1 Notice of an inspection

All inspections of secure children’s homes are unannounced.

We ask homes to give inspectors access to premises and records and space for inspectors to work. Inspectors may need some help to navigate the system where records are electronic and, when relevant, request that the registered person, or person in charge of the home, seeks urgent access for inspectors to the Youth Justice Application Framework. Homes do not need to provide files in hard copy unless these are already used, although inspectors may ask for specific reports or documents to be printed.

9.2 Request for information at an inspection

When notification of an inspection is given, inspectors give the provider a copy of Annex A of the inspection framework and agree when the information should be made available.

This information is requested under Section 31 of the Care Standards Act. The information supports the inspection process and informs the inspection findings.

Providers can download a copy and keep this updated in preparation for their full inspection and send this electronically to the lead inspector during the inspection. Some of the information is stored by Ofsted for data analysis purposes (see use of personal data).

Inspectors use Annex A data to generate lines of enquiry about the safety and welfare of children. Specifically, inspectors want to assure themselves that:

  • when children are considered to be at risk of, or subject to, child sexual exploitation or extremism, all agencies including the relevant local authorities are working together to support the child
  • when children are separated from others, or locked into their bedrooms outside of normal bedtime routines, that the legal criteria are adhered to and there is robust oversight and governance by managers
  • return home interviews are being offered when children have absconded from the home
  • children are receiving the educational provision as outlined in their relevant plan
  • there are plans in place to ensure that staff have an appropriate qualification in order to meet regulation 32 of the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015

If a placing authority or other agency has not fulfilled its statutory duties or met the child’s needs as identified in their care plan, inspectors should evaluate the action the manager has taken. Inspectors must inform the relevant Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector (SHMI) of any placing authorities that have not arranged a return home interview for any child who has absconded from the home or when they have concerns that a local authority is not meeting its statutory duties.