Ofsted could accompany social workers on child visits

Social workers could soon be accompanied by Ofsted inspectors when carrying out visits to children, Ofsted has revealed. John Goldup (pictured), Ofsted's director of social care, said the practice would help inspectors gauge the standard of services provided to children and families.

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Social workers could soon be accompanied by Ofsted inspectors when carrying out visits to children, Ofsted has revealed.

Speaking to Community Care today, John Goldup, Ofsted’s director of social care, said the practice would help inspectors gauge the standard of services provided to children and families and, in particular, assess the impact on outcomes for children.

“As we go into our new inspection regime we want inspectors to spend more time directly observing aspects of social work practice… the quality of practice and relationships, while always keeping the focus on outcomes. 

“We want inspectors to spend more time talking to children and young people and less time on other activities, such as focus groups,” Goldup said.

He acknowledged that there would be sensitive issues involved and reassured practitioners that the changes would be carefully worked through. “It is tricky, of course, in terms of sensitivities with families. It needs to be carefully thought about,” he said.

An Ofsted spokesperson confirmed the practice would only ever happen on a case-by-case basis. “Obviously this won’t happen if social workers feel it could be detrimental to the child or family. It would only happen where appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

The move is part of Ofsted’s wider aim to focus its inspection regime on the difference that services make to the lives of children. It is expected to be included in the watchdog’s revised framework for inspecting safeguarding services, to be published next year.

It follows changes to Ofsted’s framework for inspecting children’s homes, which have already been implemented. Goldup said: “We have already made this change in our children’s homes inspections and inspectors have been observing the qualities of relationships between staff and young people, and life in the home.

“We are making it really clear in our frameworks and guidance that a focus on outcomes is key to inspections. We are keeping that in mind across the board.”

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