Inspection body plan sparks ire

Plans to make the proposed children’s inspectorate an “enlarged
Ofsted” would fail to ensure its independence and suggest it was
primarily interested in schools.

That was the warning from the Commission for Social Care Inspection
last week at its board meeting, where commissioners lambasted
proposals to bring the inspection of children’s social care,
education and adult learning under one roof.

Chair Denise Platt was particularly scathing about plans to retain
elements of Ofsted’s governance structure, which she said would
threaten the proposed body’s independence from ministers.

Under government plans, the chief inspector of the proposed
children’s inspectorate would report directly to ministers on some
matters and to a board on others.

Currently, Ofsted’s chief inspector, David Bell, reports directly
to ministers and is not accountable to a board, unlike his
counterparts in the CSCI, the Healthcare Commission and the Audit

Platt said: “If this is a modern inspectorate, it needs a modern
governance structure, not one that is antiquated and sits on the
shoulders of ministers.”

Platt also criticised plans to name the enlarged inspectorate
Ofsted  (news, page 6, 15 September). “For me, Ofsted is linked in
the public mind with schools.”

The board was also told that the Department of Health may drop
plans for the CSCI to take over the third stage of complaints
against social services departments from councils.

The reform was due to come into force in April but was put back
until October and has now been deferred again.

Chief inspector David Behan said: “The DH is rethinking whether
this direction of travel is one it wants to pursue.”

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