Ofsted rates council 'good' in trial of new inspection framework
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
A council's children's services have been rated "good' following a trial of the new Ofsted inspection framework being introduced next year.
Inspectors trialling the new framework during their visit to Nottingham City Council in January and February have praised the strong leadership of its children's services and quality of its support for children and families.
The findings come as Ofsted's social care director Eleanor Schooling revealed further details about the new framework, which will be introduced across England from January 2018.
She said the new framework will have a far stronger focus on the experiences of children and families as well as how effective social workers are at supporting them. Inspectors will be less concerned with processes and strategy and more interested in whether support is improving children's lives.
She has pledged that inspectors will have no preconceived ideas on the best way to support children, only whether it is effective.
"Inspectors will spend most of their time looking at children's experiences," said Schooling.
"They will do this by talking to social workers and their managers. Inspectors will also talk to the children and families. They will spend much less time in meetings or reading strategic plans.
"Inspectors will want to see that social workers are making every effort to ensure children feel a sense of belonging.
"We want to report on what really matters. Are children living in a place that is right for them? Are they waiting too long to move in with a foster family or into a residential home?"
Under the new framework, councils will be inspected once every three years, with single judgments of "outstanding", "good", "requires improvement" and "inadequate" given. Additional visits may also take place to assess areas of development and strengths.
Inspectors visiting Nottingham were particularly impressed with the council's commitment to finding permanent homes for children. This includes using DVDs to offer advice to potential adopters and helping older children leaving residential care to find suitable foster carers.
"The service has successfully found adopters and foster carers for some children with very complex needs," Ofsted's inspection report states.
Areas of improvement include the need to be more "tenacious" in keeping in contact with care leavers and more robust in supporting young homeless people.
Concerns were also raised around independent reviewing officers' workload, which hampered their monitoring of support for children.
"Inspectors were clear that our workers complete meaningful work with children and their families, which leads to improved outcomes in all areas of their life, said Nottingham's director for children's services Alison Michalska.
"Throughout the inspection process inspectors credited the passion, enthusiasm and positivity of our staff.
"We know there are some areas that need to improve further and work will take place going forward to address the areas for development that Ofsted has highlighted to us."