Ofsted moots scaled-back re-inspections for inadequate councils

By Neil Puffett

| 09 February 2016

Re-inspections of local authority children's services that have been rated "inadequate" by Ofsted will be made more proportionate, it has been announced.

Councils judged by Ofsted to have "inadequate" children's services will only be subject to re-inspection in service areas that initially caused concern. Picture: Morguefile

The regulator said it wants to change regulations so that re-inspections focus solely on service areas causing concern rather than all elements of children's services.

So far under the single inspection framework, which was launched in November 2013, a total of 79 councils have been inspected, of which 20 have been found to be inadequate.

News of the plans to introduce more proportionate re-inspections comes just a week after CYP Now revealed that the watchdog's inspection programme has fallen further behind schedule and is now unlikely to be completed until December 2017. It was initially intended to be a three-year cycle, concluding in November 2016.

Ofsted has admitted it is struggling to complete inspections of all local authority children's services departments to schedule because of financial pressures.

Under the current framework, Ofsted should re-inspect an inadequate local authority within 18 to 24 months.

"For any local authority found to be inadequate, this has meant two inspections in three years looking at the full range of their services," a consultation document published by Ofsted states.

"We recognise that this may not always be the most proportionate response, particularly for those local authorities that have been judged inadequate in some aspects of their services but not others."

Instead Ofsted wants to focus re-inspections on the areas of weakness identified at the original single inspection.

"This will ensure that each re-inspection focuses on the areas of practice most in need of improvement," the consultation document states.

It adds that where a local authority was found to be inadequate in all judgment areas, it will likely be subject to a full re-inspection.

"We will want to be assured that sufficient progress has been made against the full scope of the original inspection," the consultation document adds.

A consultation on the proposals is due to close on 8 March.

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