Ofsted has published the framework for its new inspection regime ahead of a full rollout in January 2018.
As part of the regime, authorities will be asked to evaluate the quality and impact of their social work practice, as well as have a formal yearly conversation with Ofsted about performance.
The data and meetings will help inform how and when each authority is inspected, Ofsted said.
The inspectorate said the new approach would be “more proportionate, risk-based and flexible than before,” and would allow it to prioritise inspection “where it is most needed”.
The new inspection regime has been piloted over the past year, and the final arrangements are:
– Short inspections: Authorities judged to be ‘good’ or better will be inspected for a one-week short inspection every three year
– Standard inspections: Authorities judge to be ‘requires improvement to be good’ will be inspected for two weeks every three years
– Monitoring visits: Authorities rated ‘inadequate’ will be visited quarterly. Those rated ‘inadequate’ across all or most areas will repeat a full single inspection, while local authorities with only some areas ‘inadequate’ may be subject to a ‘post-monitoring single inspection’, which is a shorter inspection under the single inspection framework
– Focused visits: Authorities rated above ‘inadequate’ will receive at least one focused visit between their short or standard inspections.
Ofsted’s national director for social care, Eleanor Schooling, said the new approach is focused on the experiences of children and families.
“More frequent contact is all about identifying what is working well and catching local authorities before they fall. We want to help authorities improve the support they provide for vulnerable children and their families,” Schooling said.
“We have worked closely with sector leaders in developing this new approach, and I am pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received. This is a step forward for inspection that I hope will make a genuine and positive impact on children’s lives.”
Read more commentary on the new inspection framework from Eleanor Schooling.