Education chiefs criticise method for assessing children’s services

The new unified assessment system for council-run children’s
services is unclear and based on questionable data, education
chiefs have warned.

The Association of London Chief Education Officers has raised a
number of concerns about the annual performance assessment, which
comes into force this year, in a letter to Ofsted chief inspector
David Bell.

Many of the concerns are believed to be backed by the Association
of Directors of Social Services.

Paul Robinson, director of education at Wandsworth Council, said:
“Everyone supports the Every Child Matters agenda. It’s
just that the way in which the architecture has been established
for judging how close we perform against the five outcomes does
seem to have some fault lines.”

He said some of the information used by Ofsted and the Commission
for Social Care Inspection in their assessments was unvalidated and
unaudited. The association was also concerned that the way
inspectors decided upon the ratings was not transparent.

The annual assessment brings together judgements on education and
children’s social services in a single rating, though each element
will still receive a separate rating.

The letter also says the way the system uses self-assessment is
incomplete. Robinson said it focused exclusively on the five
outcomes but that much of what councils did in children’s services,
such as personnel or property management, was outside their

In a comment that may put them at odds with the ADSS, the education
chiefs also claimed that the assessment system was overly focused
on vulnerable children.

Robinson said: “It seems that a disproportionate weight has been
given to a minority of children rather than trying to get a general
picture of how a local authority is doing.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said it had received the letter and would
respond soon.

The letter has been copied to the Department for Education and

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