At least two of the 10 zero-star social services departments are
“cautiously optimistic” that they will be awarded a star when the
ratings are updated later this autumn.
The refreshed ratings will take account of new inspection and joint
review evidence collated before the end of June, and of the 2001-2
performance assessment framework performance indicators due to be
published in October.
For the zero-star departments, refreshed ratings will also take
account of assessments carried out on behalf of health minister
Jacqui Smith. They will determine whether they have made sufficient
progress to inspire confidence in their capacity and capability,
based on monitoring data submitted as part of their action or
performance improvement plans.
A guidance note sent to social services inspectorate staff last
week says Smith has indicated that she expects the overall
refreshing exercise to lead to “relatively few changes”.
In particular zero-star departments could only gain a star when
there is “extremely robust evidence” to back their claim and some
councils may even move into zero-star rating as a result of the
Although two of the ten – who refused to be named – were hopeful of
an improved rating, the others were either less hopeful or
reluctant to comment.
Interim director of Bromley Council’s zero-star social services
department Bob Ward, who did not wish to be drawn on his
department’s chances of achieving one-star when the ratings are
refreshed, said: “The real goal is sustainable improvement. It’s
not about getting a quick turn around that is not sustainable. What
we are working on is achieving one-star, then improving beyond
The guidance suggests inspectors evaluating the new evidence should
give priority to councils where performance indicators were a
dominant factor in the May rating decision, or where a council was
judged to be close to a boundary between ratings.
Any additional effects of the new indicators should be indicated to
chief inspector Denise Platt when she makes her final determination
on the judgements to ensure transparency, it says.
The refreshed ratings will then feed into the comprehensive
performance assessment judgements for councils’ overall performance