Regional Cafcass offices will no longer be inspected on their individual performance, according to proposals outlined by Ofsted today.
Instead Ofsted plans to conduct an annual inspection of the family courts body as a national organisation, supported by a detailed examination of practice in up to six areas.
The move, which is open for consultation from today, follows a restructure at the family courts body, with 21 regional offices reduced to 17, as well as improved performance across Cafcass and likely changes heralded by the creation of a Family Justice Board.
“Over the last four years Ofsted has reported in detail on Cafcass’ performance across the country and it is encouraging that service delivery has improved significantly over that time,” said Ofsted’s deputy chief inspector John Goldup.
“Our new, more streamlined inspection framework will focus on ensuring that improvement is sustained at the national strategic level and on the ground,” he added.
Under the plans, Ofsted will conduct a single, unannounced national inspection of the family courts body’s performance from September 2013, conducted over two weeks and including a detailed examination of practice in up to six local service areas.
Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said the new inspection regime promised to be more agile and dynamic than the current framework.
“We have been working with Ofsted on how to make the new framework as effective as possible and will continue to do so.
“We look forward to hearing the responses to Ofsted’s consultation,” Douglas said.
The consultation is open until 12 March, with new inspection arrangements coming into effect in September this year.
Family justice review saves Cafcass but recommends big change