A joint policy paper published by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), the Local Government Association (LGA) and council chief executive’s group Solace, recommends Ofsted’s single inspection framework is “stood down” because it is “no longer fit for purpose” as it fails to assess the involvement of other agencies and places too great a burden on departments.
They are asking for the introduction of unannounced inspections of “front-door” arrangements covering contact, referral and assessment procedures and systems.
Findings from these lighter-touch inspections would be included in a narrative report that describes whether practice meets required standards along with recommendations on how services could be improved.
Authorities where significant concerns were identified would be subject, along with other services working with children and young people, to a wider, multi-agency joint inspection.
They suggest ending the four-tier grading system which only uses a single-word judgment to summarise one department’s performance.
They also want an expansion of thematic inspections focused on assessing performance across services for children and young people on a range of issues saying that this would become the “bedrock of improvement” and focus on issues all local areas struggle with such as tackling domestic violence.
An Ofsted spokesperson said: "We welcome the debate on inspections and are committed to working with the sector to further develop and improve inspection. As the position paper recognises, Ofsted announced earlier this year that it is to consult on the future of joint multi-agency inspections, and we will be working closely with these organisations on this important programme of work.”