All agencies involved in protecting vulnerable children in an area will be jointly inspected from February, it has been announced.
Local authorities, police, health, probation and youth offending services will all be visited by their relevant inspectorates to see how an area responds to vulnerable children and young people.
The one-week inspections will include a ‘deep dive’ topic, and the first theme will be child sexual exploitation and those missing from home, school or care. Joint inspections will work alongside Ofsted’s current individual inspections to help look more closely at risks.
Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said: “The joint approach will allow us to act swiftly where we are concerned about specific issues in an area so we can ensure that every agency is doing its part. Equally, it will give us an important opportunity to look at good practice and really understand how local areas are tackling the challenges they face.”
Areas for improvement
The first round of inspections carried out by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation will be completed by summer 2016, and the future ‘deep dive’ topics will be decided with input from key stakeholders.
The intention is that the inspections would identify areas for improvement, and highlight good practice. The final inspection report will include narrative findings, and when each thematic inspection is finished, an overview report will be published.
Joint targeted area inspections will also replace Ofsted’s thematic inspection programme.
Schooling added that the new inspections would deliver a “comprehensive picture of how several agencies work together in an area to ensure children are safe”.