Ofsted changes ‘will ease inspection burden on councils’

molly.garboden@rbi.co.uk Ofsted's new...

Ofsted’s new inspection regime, published last week, will go some way to reducing the inspection burden on local authorities, according to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

Ofsted has announced that local authorities automatically given a poor rating in their 2010 children’s services assessments because of an inadequate safeguarding grade may be subject to re-inspection if the judgement was made before or on 17 December 2010. The re-inspection judgements will be taken into account for the 2011 children’s services assessment, the inspectorate said.

Where there has been little change in an authority’s performance between 2010 and 2011, Ofsted will provide a shorter assessment letter, providing a brief summary explanation for the grade awarded and identifying major strengths and areas for further development.

Where inspectors’ analysis shows there has been improvement or deterioration in children’s services over the year, the letter will have more detail and provide further explanation to support the assessment grade.

Eleanor Schooling, chair of the ADCS standards, performance and inspection committee, said: “The revised annual assessment arrangements for 2011 go some way to reflecting the desire for a reduced inspection burden on local authorities – in particular the risk assessments undertaken for re-inspection and, where there has been little change since last year’s profile, a shorter assessment letter – and this will be welcomed by local authorities.

“Looking to the future, given the changes that are underway across the whole children’s services landscape included in the annual assessment, there will need to be further developments to ensure the continued relevance of the profile and assessment, if the process is to continue at all.”

Schooling said the ADCS approved of the Department for Education’s intention to remove the statutory basis for desk-based assessments – the compilation of data about previous inspections – saying the focus must be on reducing bureaucracy and costs incurred by both local authorities and Ofsted in completing “what is an increasingly irrelevant process”.

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