Ofsted: how to gain ‘outstanding’ status

Molly Garboden questions Ofsted and high-performing providers on what it takes to be an “outstanding” service


John Goldup, social care director, Ofsted, on

CHILDREN’S HOMES: Unlike other providers, the quality of individual children’s homes can go up and down a lot from one inspection to another. That seems to have more to do with staff turnover than anything. The less successful homes have trouble keeping their staff so it’s difficult for them to improve.

FOSTERING AGENCIES: One thing the outstanding fostering agencies have in common is a strong commitment to training not only their staff, but also the foster carers.

ADOPTION AGENCIES: Adoption work is so much about careful assessment and planning. That would be the theme particular to adoption agencies, along with the quality of the professional oversight and management.

Karen Malcolm, social care inspector, Ofsted, on

RESIDENTIAL SPECIAL SCHOOLS: These are different because it’s down to the needs of the children and how they work with the children, as opposed to something like fostering where you’re dealing with the needs of the carers as well as the young people.


John Keane, registered manager, Fostering Solutions

The number one thing that impressed the inspectors was the commitment and passion that’s evident in our outcomes. We have a high level of successful placements and we’re committed to consulting the children and young people about their placements. We strive to ensure for the children direct linkage and contact with the management making decisions about their lives. We consult them when it comes to policymaking and even put them on interview panels for recruitment of carers and staff. These are the areas in which we’ve been striving to keep on the cutting edge.

Jonathan Hepworth, operations manager, Devon County Council adoption

One thing that helped us demonstrate good quality service was the way health and children’s services work together effectively to put the necessary supports in place. This is important when it comes to adoption placements for children with special needs or for adopters who have particular needs themselves. The inspectors were able to see some examples of very good co-operative working.

We also stand out through our approach to equal opportunities and diversity. This comes out in making adoption possible for children with a variety of needs, and also in supporting adopters from every walk of life.

Kamran Abassi, operations director, Advanced Childcare (residential care, education and fostering provider)

We’ve had nearly 20 Ofsted inspectors comment on our highly customised care placement planning for young people. When we care for a child, we don’t see that child as having to fit into a pigeon hole. They all have different types and levels of need and we make sure the care packages we provide fit each child and young person. We review our services constantly and ask the young people to talk to us about their experiences of care.

Angela Whitrick, manager, Libertas Community Home, Surrey Council

A lot of the work with 16- to 18-year-olds is about empowering them to take responsibility. With us, the expectation is that all our kids are either in education or employment.

We also do lots of work around their transition into adulthood, and lots of outreach work when they leave. Something we’re looking at is transitional housing for young people. Once they’re 18 they can’t stay with us any longer, but housing won’t accept them until they’re over 18, so they can get stuck in this limbo period.

It would be ideal for the young people who go to university because it will give them somewhere to go during the holidays.

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