Re-inspecting inadequate authorities too soon disrupts improvements, children’s services chiefs warn

ADCS opposes Ofsted plan to revisit inadequate services within two years

Photo: ImageBroker/ RexShutterstock
Photo: ImageBroker/ RexShutterstock

Inadequate children’s services should not be re-inspected for at least two years, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has told Ofsted.

In its response to the inspectorate’s consultation on how it re-inspects inadequate services, the ADCS said inspections that happen too soon disrupt efforts to deliver improvements.

“Past experience shows that re-inspecting in a shorter timescale can be highly disruptive to the improvement process, particularly if there has been a significant change in the senior management team – leadership needs a chance to lead,” the ADCS said.

It added that local authorities should have the option to request an earlier re-inspection if they believed they had made sufficient improvements.

At odds with Ofsted

The call puts the ADCS at odds with Ofsted’s plan to re-inspect children’s services to take place no later than 24 months after an inadequate rating in a full inspection.

The ADCS also voiced concern about the involvement of the Department for Education in deciding when local authority children’s services should be re-inspected.

“It is critical that the inspectorate retains its impartiality and is free from political influence,” the response said, adding that conversations between Ofsted and the DfE about timings of re-inspections should be made public and consider the views of councils above all else.

Areas of weakness

Elsewhere the ADCS welcomed Ofsted’s plan to only examine areas of weakness when re-inspecting children’s services because it would reduce the burden of inspections on councils.

“ADCS recognises that this approach represents a calculated risk for both the inspectorate, and the inspected, and ADCS members stand ready to work with Ofsted to establish how best to collectively manage and mitigate against such risks,” it said.

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