Ofsted inspectors will spend more time with social workers on the frontline once the new inspection framework is rolled out, the organisation’s social care chief has said.
In a blog about social care inspection, Eleanor Schooling said the new regime, which is currently being piloted, will be “less interested in high level plans”.
Instead, inspectors will focus on “how social workers are helping children and families on the ground”.
“They’ll do this by spending more time with social workers. Ideally, inspectors want to see that leaders are creating the right environment where social workers can flourish,” Schooling said.
She added that pilot inspections had begun to show positive findings from this approach, and that inspectors had a “professional dialogue” with social workers.
“In one pilot, inspectors saw conscientious social workers recording children’s thoughts, wishes and feelings. They did this to get a sense of what life is like for the child,” Schooling said.
The new inspection regime – ILACS (the inspection of local authority children’s services) – will start formally in January next year, and the framework which underpins it will be published before the end of 2017.
Other changes in the inspection include Ofsted using local authority audits of practice to help determine when inspections are necessary.
Local authorities will be required to answer:
- What do you know about the quality and impact of practice with children and families?
- How do you know it?
- What do you plan to do as a result?
Schooling said: “We’ve been piloting this new approach with councils. They’ve been telling us they think we’re too focused on process and risk. And that we need to focus more on the quality of the help they’re giving children and families.”
The new regime will also change how children’s services rated as ‘requires improvement’ are inspected.
These will receive either a ‘standard’ inspection, based on two weeks’ fieldwork, or a ‘short’ inspection, based on one week of fieldwork. Councils rated ‘inadequate’ will continue with the current system of four quarterly monitoring visits, followed by a full re-inspection.