How important is leadership in children’s services inspection ratings?

Ofsted data shows all inadequate rated councils were ‘inadequate’ for both leadership and children in need

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All local authorities rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in overall effectiveness were also well-rated for leadership, management and governance.

Of 63 Ofsted inspections carried out since 1 April 2016 (published by 8 December 2017) half of those inspected were rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall.

Just under one fifth (12) were judged inadequate, while the rest were judged as ‘requires improvement to be good’.

Leadership and management

Community Care’s analysis of the inspection ratings found all those authorities with an overall judgement of good or outstanding received at least a corresponding rating for leadership, management and governance.

Conversely, all those local authorities judged ‘inadequate’ received an inadequate rating for both leadership and for children who need help and protection.

Outcomes were less definitive in children in need and looked-after children services for the local authorities rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall.

While the majority were rated at least good in these areas, one third were deemed to require improvement for their services to children in need, with a handful (4) receiving this rating for looked after children.

Across all 63 authorities inspected during the period, one-third were rated good for children in need, with none rated outstanding. Meanwhile 56% were deemed good or outstanding for leadership, including three with an overall judgement of requires improvement.

Ofsted inspections in numbers

63 local authority children’s services inspections since 1 April 2016 (published by 8 December 2017)

51% judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, of these:

  • 100% were judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ for leadership, management and governance
  • 66% were judged ‘good’ for children in need of help and protection

19% judged ‘inadequate’, of these:

  • 100% were judged ‘inadequate’ for leadership, management and governance and for children in need of help and protection

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One Response to How important is leadership in children’s services inspection ratings?

  1. Chris Mills December 22, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

    We need to be careful NOT to confuse correlation with cause. It is hard to imagine an inspection report which said that the services were good but the management was rubbish! If the services are good or outstanding I expect that inspectors would conclude that management must be doing something right.

    There is a need to be very careful here. A naive view might result in an assumption that the best route to improvement is to clear out the existing management and bring in new blood. But the true causes of ‘inadequacy’ are much more deep-rooted. Ofsted chiefs seem keen on the idea that leadership is the most important factor. But in reality it is just one factor.

    The right approach to understanding service quality and how to improve it requires much more analysis and much less judgement. The present Ofsted regime is a simplistic, two-dimensional approach to a very complex problem.

    Perhaps that explains why after 10 years of this approach to inspection, the proportion of local authorities found to be providing substandard services remains disturbingly high.