Who makes sure that children get the best?

A feature sponsored by Ofsted

Picture credit: Gary Brigden/Community Care

We expect schools, children’s homes, foster carers and colleges to provide children with the highest standard of care. The good news is that many do. But there are also those whose performance is simply not up to scratch. Ofsted is the organisation tasked with checking children’s social care providers are either meeting standards or making the required improvements as quickly as possible.

Social care regulatory inspectors (SCRI) are Ofsted’s representatives on the frontline. Working individually or as part of a team our committed and diligent inspectors are passionate about making a difference and on improving children’s lives. SCRIs visit services across the country, not just inspecting, but challenging and working collaboratively with providers to raise standards and to improve outcomes for extremely vulnerable young people.

So exactly what do inspectors do? Working alone or in a small team, SCRIs visit children’s social care providers to carry out their inspections. It could be a small operator with just one or two facilities. Or it could be a major national organisation with many care homes. No matter the subject of the inspection, SCRIs are there to represent Ofsted and to help providers improve the quality of service that young children receive.

Gathering evidence means talking to the staff and children. Inspectors will then use Ofsted’s specially designed frameworks and their own expert judgement to produce unbiased reports. When providers are under-performing, action must be taken. Inspectors can draw upon the support of their colleagues and their own experience and diplomacy to impart serious messages. While concerns must be expressed plainly, sensitivity is also vital. A firm but fair approach is often the first step to setting in motion the changes that need to take place.

It’s clear that being an inspector is about more than writing reports. The role can be tough but varied, with fresh challenges every day. No two days are ever the same; an inspector could be working with a national chain for young people with profound learning difficulties one day and then inspecting a local special school for young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties the next. What’s more, inspectors must have the ability to organise their own workload and be able to work by themselves as well as part of a team. Knowledge of child care and protection is crucial, but it must come with another requirement: the drive to safeguard children’s wellbeing.

As a national inspectorate, Ofsted is unique in giving people the opportunity to make a difference to children and young people, on both a local and national level. It provides the opportunity to inspect and influence local and national care providers, influence the development of inspection frameworks and also the potential to work with central government to develop policy and guidance for the sector. If you feel that you would like to increase the span of your influence whilst still retaining the ability to make an immediate, positive impact on children and young people, you’ll be pleased to hear that Ofsted is currently recruiting. For further information, click here to apply.

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