ADCS and Ofsted lock horns on inspections

The president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has intensified his criticism of Ofsted’s unannounced inspections of safeguarding services.

Four months after the results of the first spot checks sparked concern, ADCS president Kim Bromley-Derry called on Ofsted to recognise the inspection process was “fatally flawed” and challenged the watchdog to recognise the levels of concern that existed.

“The current inspection regime measures process and not practice,” he said. “There’s nothing about improvement in [the inspection process] or how it can be used to ensure improvement takes place.”

Bromley-Derry’s comments came days after he criticised Ofsted at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate.

However, Ofsted has hit back by claiming it has had regular meetings with the ADCS. A spokeswoman said it was “disappointed” with Bromley-Derry’s views.

“We have to say that their criticisms don’t accord with what we are being told by the people on the ground who have actually experienced our inspections,” she said.

Bromley-Derry said there needed to be more peer inspections, claiming that many inspectors had not worked in children’s services and social workers could be far more challenging and insightful on what it takes to improve practice.

“We are offering to be involved but it doesn’t have to be us, although some directors of children’s services should be involved,” he added.

But Ofsted said it had already invited directors to nominate senior and experienced staff to take part in inspections. It also maintained that all inspectors involved in unannounced inspections were qualified social workers.

The spokeswoman claimed a recent inspection report on Cornwall’s children’s services was credited with having helped to prevent a potential tragedy and local social workers felt it had vindicated their concerns.

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