Ofsted rejects ‘tick-box’ view of caseload limits

Ofsted does not intend to do any work around setting limits on social worker caseloads according to its new director of development for social care.

Speaking at the launch of Ofsted’s annual report, John Goldup said a definition of unacceptably high case loads was unnecessary because “characteristics of well-run services are not in doubt”.

“Thinking like that would take us straight back into the tick-box mentality,” he said. “I don’t think going back to trying to agree on lists is the way forward.”

He called on the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) to work with Ofsted on the issue.

“If we sat around a table with the ADCS – which I believe we should be doing – I don’t think it would be difficult to agree on what the characteristics are of a sound safeguarding service.”

Comprehensive area assessments

Goldup hit back at ADCS criticism of the forthcoming comprehensive area assessments (CAA), a summary of audit commission and six inspectorate’s findings on council services. ADCS president Kim Bromley-Derry claimed draft assessments, seen by directors, were trying to summarise children’s services on one side of A4 paper and had resulted in sentences that did not make sense and would not help the public better understand children’s services

However, Goldup said: “Saying the totality of a children’s services’ performance is listed on an A4 piece of paper is just not true. That is the summary, but there’s a huge amount of detail under that. The proposition that you can’t give an overall rating – I don’t agree with that. Bearing in mind the kind of services that Ofsted is engaged with, wherever you live, it’s right to look to an organisation like Ofsted for that overview.”

The Audit Commission also responded to the ADCS’s criticism of the first CAA report or ‘Oneplace’ as the new website will be named.

A spokesperson said: “The new website won’t be unveiled until 9 December. Only then will ADCS and everyone else be able to read the area assessments in all their rich detail. Thus far, people can comment only on the process rather than its results, so the important question of ‘what value does CAA add?’ is best addressed once everyone has had a chance to see the product.”

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