Joint Ofsted inspections to home in on high profile child safeguarding concerns

Inspectorates set out plans for a focus on topical safeguarding issues within the new joint working targeted area inspections

Hot topics in child protection will be the focus of the new multi-agency Ofsted inspections starting in the autumn.

Proposals published today revealed the new ‘joint targeted area inspections’ will assess how well local authority, health, police and probation services work together on child protection concerns using teams of inspectors from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation.

‘Deep dives’

These week-long inspections will include ‘deep dives’ that will identify and investigate a small number of cases related to the most topical issues in safeguarding. Local agencies will receive eight working days’ notice of a joint targeted area inspection.

The first six joint targeted area inspections, which will take place between October 2015 and March 2016, will focus on children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation or going missing from home, school or care.

Factors such as high-profile media coverage, Independent Police Complaints Commission referrals and the results of serious case reviews will influence what the ‘deep dives’ will focus on after March 2016.

‘Shorter and more flexible’

“Our proposed new inspections are shorter and more flexible,” said Matthew Coffey, chief operating officer at Ofsted, which will led the inspection teams.

“They will allow us to act swiftly where we are concerned about specific issues in an area so we can ensure that every agency is doing its part to protect our most vulnerable children.”

“The responsibility for protecting children does not rest with one service alone,” he added.

Sue McMillan, deputy chief inspector of the Commission for Care Quality, said: “Decades of inquiries have taught us it is whole systems that fail children and young people and inspection must focus on how organisations work together to protect them.”

Narrative judgements

The inspections will result in a ‘narrative judgement’ of how services are working together rather than a grade. The consultation says that the inspections will aim to both identify poor practice and highlight the best practice.

The consultation on the plans also proposes that Ofsted adopts the same inspection methodology when carrying out single targeted agency inspections of local authorities and local safeguarding children boards. The consultation is open until 11 August.

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