Inspectors to focus on at-risk children

Support for vulnerable children will be given more attention in children’s services inspections under proposals from Ofsted’s new chief inspector of schools.

Christine Gilbert has told children’s services directors that inspectors have been unable to focus on vulnerable groups in joint area reviews, which were introduced in September 2005.

Under changes to the reviews, fieldwork would concentrate more on looked-after children, those on the child protection register, disabled children and those with learning difficulties.

Ofsted’s annual report published last month identified aspects of services for many of these groups as the areas in most need of improvement, and that children in care were poorly supported in nearly half of councils.

The inspection changes will narrow the joint area reviews which will no longer provide, on their own, a grade for a council’s children’s services.

Instead, all councils will have an annual performance assessment, which will be wider in coverage.

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