The new unified assessment system for council children’s
services is not transparent and based on questionable data,
education chiefs have warned David Bell, writes Amy
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 the Ofsted chief
Many of their concerns over the system are believed to carry the
support of the Association of Directors of Social Services.
“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,” said Paul
Robinson, director of education at Wandsworth Council.
Robinson said the some of the information used by Ofsted and the
Commission for Social Care Inspection to come to their judgements
was unvalidated and unaudited.
He added that the association was also concerned that the way
inspectors decided upon 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 that 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
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 amount of
weight has been given to a minority of children rather than trying
to get a general picture of how a local authority is
An Ofsted spokesperson said it had received the letter and would
respond shortly. The letter has been copied to the Department for
Education and Skills.”