A quarter of children’s homes in England were rated outstanding over the last year, according to figures published by Ofsted.
The provisional data, released by the watchdog today, reveals 26% of the 1,892 children’s homes given a full inspection between April 2011 and the end of March 2012 were rated ‘outstanding’.
More than half (54%) were rated ‘good’ and 18% were found to be satisfactory. Just 2% were rated inadequate.
Homes in the north west, west midlands and south east of England had the highest proportion (84%) of good or outstanding ratings for their overall effectiveness. London had the worst record, with just 70% of homes achieving similarly high ratings.
Over the first quarter of 2012 there were 86 full inspections, after which 12 homes were rated outstanding for overall effectiveness and five were considered inadequate.
The proportion of homes rated good or outstanding for overall effectiveness during the first quarter of 2012 was lower than previous quarters, but Ofsted believes this may be due to a high proportion of new homes (40%) inspected during this time.
Leadership and management was the area in need of most improvement, with six homes rated inadequate and 29 satisfactory in this area. Areas needing the least improvement were homes’ focus on outcomes for children and the quality of care.
In addition to the full inspections, there were 1,326 interim inspections carried out during the first quarter of 2012. More than half of homes (60%) had made good progress but 12% were judged to have made inadequate progress.
The provisional figures, which are due to be updated later this year, come at a time of increased pressure on children's homes, following a high profile abuse case and subsequent government review of residential care.
Jonathan Stanley, chief executive of the Independent Children’s Homes Association, said the early figures should be approached with caution. “At this time we need accurate data to be working from so, with a new approach to Ofsted inspection, we should approach provisional data with caution,” he said.
The data also revealed details of inspections of fostering and adoption services during the first quarter of 2012.
Of the 10 local authority fostering services inspected, two were rated outstanding and eight good for their overall effectiveness. The 30 inspections of independent fostering agencies revealed 12 were good, seven satisfactory and one inadequate.
Among the 23 council adoption services inspected five were outstanding and one was rated inadequate in terms of overall effectiveness.
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