Ofsted will publish more regular reports into local authorities that have been deemed ‘inadequate’.
In a response to its consultation on inspections of ‘inadequate’ councils, the watchdog said it would publish reports from monitoring visits undertaken to look at a local authority’s improvement. These reports, which would be in a letter format, will “provide a narrative about progress made and may comment on other concerns if inspectors identify them during a monitoring visit”, the response said.
Monitoring visits in ‘inadequate’ authorities will be quarterly, and will enable inspectors “to gather information to help determine the timing and arrangements for re-inspection rather than relying solely on the local authority’s and the [Department for Education’s] assessments”.
The report following the first monitoring visit will not be published, but all subsequent ones would be.
Ofsted also plans to introduce a re-inspection option which is “proportionate to the inadequacies found at the original inspection”.
This was one of the main issues the consultation looked at, as well as when a re-inspection would happen, what aspects of the current inspection framework could be used more flexibly in re-inspection, and how the findings should be reported.
On the whole, responses to Ofsted’s proposals were positive, but there was “considerable variation” in the reasons for respondents’ agreement, and different views on how proposals could be applied in practice.
The watchdog will also commit to a re-inspection of services within two years, but adjust this on a case-by-case basis to reflect local authority progress.
For a local authority judged to be ‘inadequate’ in all of its areas, a full single inspection will take place. If a local authority is only ‘inadequate’ in some areas, Ofsted will carry out shorter inspections, where some local authority roles tested through monitoring visits may not be re-inspected.
“This will enable us to be proportionate in our methodology where we can while still providing assurance that the broader effectiveness of the local authority has been maintained, or even improved,” the consultation response said.