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Children's services joint inspections start soon

Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation have announced that “short, sharp, targeted” joint inspections of children’s services will start later in the year.

It is expected that the inspections will deliver a narrative judgment rather than the single-word verdict given to councils under the current Ofsted social care framework. 

The inspections will focus on how well agencies work together to protect children and address specific areas of concern, such as sexual exploitation of children and young people. 

It is expected that 6 inspections will take place before March 2016.

The integrated approach has been piloted and consulted on over the past year, and the four inspectorates plan further consultation in the summer to refine the inspection model.  

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s chief operating officer, said: “Collective working over the past two years has shown real benefits when inspectorates are able to jointly assess the contribution of a range of agencies to the help, care and protection of children and young people. 

“While our pilots of integrated working were successful in part, the results show that we need to rethink how we use our resources to be more responsive. Our work together has got to add value to the local partnership and the integrated model did not do that enough. 

ADCS president Alan Wood said: “We are pleased that the proposal made by ADCS in September last year for an inspection model which is more targeted, more proportionate and that provides a shared narrative about what is happening locally, focusing on the strengths and areas for improvement as opposed to a simplistic league table approach of graded judgments, will form the basis of a new model. The decision to organise a consultation meeting with the sector in the summer to consider how to develop a targeted area inspection of services designed to protect children is therefore welcome.

If we are to assess whether or not services are protecting children effectively, it is essential that inspection aids the drive for continuous improvement, and inspects the contribution each local agency, including schools and GPs, make to the delivery of child protection services in an area."