Ofsted u-turn on child protection inspection plans

Ofsted has abandoned plans for multi-agency child protection inspections after pilots raised concerns

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Plans for multi-agency child protection inspections have been scrapped, the chief inspector of Ofsted announced today.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the inspections, which were backed by Eileen Munro and due to begin in June, would no longer go ahead after sector concerns.

He also confirmed there will be no separate inspections of services for looked-after children, as Ofsted had planned.

He said the recent pilot of multi-agency inspections had raised a number of “issues and concerns” that Ofsted had been “unable to ignore”. He said directors of children’s services and local authority chief executives had raised a number of reservations.

“I do not think it is right to inspect child protection and looked after children services separately, as we had planned,” he said.

He continued: “Our inspections of these hugely important functions must get to the heart of how well vulnerable children are identified, protected and looked after, and the difference this makes to their lives. I believe we can only do this effectively through a single inspection framework.”

Concerns from directors

Alan Wood, vice president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, agreed the pilots had revealed problems.

“Ofsted has listened to the concerns we and others have raised with regard to the accountability of other partners, and we agree more needs to be done to  resolve how the new framework can test, challenge and judge the specific accountabilities of each agency when it comes to protecting and helping children and their families.” 

CQC ‘disappointed’

However, a spokesperson for the Care Quality Commission said: “In common with other partner regulators, CQC is disappointed with Ofsted’s decision to defer the two multi-agency inspection programmes designed to look at the effectiveness of local services in protecting children, and to examine the effectiveness of services for looked after children.
“We hope the deferment will be as brief as possible, and that our partner regulators and inspectorates will continue to work collaboratively to bring this forward. We believe this is the very best approach to assist children who need protection. CQC will continue to develop its plans to inspect safeguarding arrangements for children using health services, and will publish the details as soon as they are confirmed.”

Ofsted’s single inspection framework for child protection and looked-after children services will be introduced in September, with pilots and a consultation beginning in June.

Until the new framework is implemented, Ofsted will carry out separate inspections of child protection services, will re-introduce some targeted inspections of looked-after children services and will continue with regulatory inspections of adoption and fostering functions.

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