Ofsted’s “tick-box approach” to safeguarding ignores good practice in child protection and stifles innovation, social work expert Eileen Munroe has claimed.
Munro (pictured), reader in social policy at the London School of Economics, attacked the inspectorate for assessing only targets that were easy to measure and for facing to recognise high-quality social work.
She told Community Care that practitioners had described the regime as “high on criticism and low on warmth”.
“They need to be encouraging and rewarding innovation. But they do not encourage good practice,” she said. Munro called for an analysis of Ofsted’s activities in social care to ensure it was delivering value for money.
Children’s inspection regime launch
Her comments came days before the launch of Ofsted’s new inspection regime for children’s social care services in England on
Under the comprehensive area assessment, the inspectorate has promised greater emphasis on direct observation of practice and its effectiveness in improving the lives of service users.
An Ofsted spokesperson said this would include interviews with children and families, and observations on how frontline staff handle referrals and enquiries plus their work with minors in children’s centres.
Munro welcomed this if it resulted in inspectors seeing “the reality of the job”.
She said social workers “want to be accountable for what we think is a good job”, but added: “We need a strong professional voice to express what that looks like.”
Ofsted rejects criticisms
The Ofsted spokesperson said the inspectorate “did not recognise” the description of inspection activity suggested by Dr Munro’s comments.
“We inspect more than aspects that are easily measurable. Our inspectors are required to use their professional knowledge and experience to evaluate the quality of practice and outcomes for children and young people by making judgements in relation to complex aspects, such as overall effectiveness, capacity for improvement and safeguarding.”
The spokesperson added that inspectors tracked a selection of cases to evaluate the effectiveness of services and spoke to professionals, children and families.