Children’s services rated ‘inadequate’ will no longer face re-inspection under the single inspection framework (SIF), the watchdog has announced.
The SIF was an intensive, ‘one size fits all’ four-week inspection of services that ran from 2013-17. Under the regime many authorities saw their ratings drop, and few were rated ‘outstanding’ overall.
A new framework – inspections of local authority children’s services (ILACS) – was introduced at the start of this year with shorter ‘standard inspections’, and shorter inspections still for services rated ‘good’ or better.
Ofsted always intended to inspect all services under the ILACS framework, but wanted to evaluate its impact to ensure it delivered the right information needed to monitor local authorities in intervention.
Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said the ILACS framework was working well and the inspectorate and was confident it was providing effective assurance of quality and progress.
“Inspections so far have shown that our approach recognises improvement and outstanding practice, but is equally able to identify where improvement is needed most,” Stanley said.
She added: “In streamlining our approach we retain the same high expectations about the quality of social work expected, and the impact of practice on children. This decision makes sense, both for inspection, and for the sector.”
‘Inadequate’ authorities will still receive regular monitoring visits, which provide updates and information about progress in the quality of children’s services.
When the new regime was announced in November 2017, then national director for social care Eleanor Schooling said: “I want to stress that ILACS will be no less rigorous than the SIF. However, the SIF was intentionally a one size fits all inspection. And while it has given us a good baseline to move forward from, now is the time for a more risk-based, proportionate way of looking at how children’s services departments are performing.”