Association of Directors of Children’s Services said re-inspecting within a shorter timescale is highly disruptive
The re-inspection of a local authority rated inadequate should be at least 24 months after the original inspection, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services has said.
Ofsted published a consultation document which closed last week seeking views on timescales around the re-inspection of an authority rated inadequate.
Under the current framework, Ofsted should re-inspect an inadequate local authority across all service areas within 18 to 24 months and the consultation proposes to keep the current maximum time limit for re-inspection of 24 months.
The ADCS responded saying that the re-inspection should take place at least two years after the original inspection with the option for the authority to request an earlier assessment if it was confident that its "improvements journey was sufficiently advanced and transformation of services was secured”.
“Past experience shows that re-inspecting in a shorter timescale can be highly disruptive to the improvement process, particularly if there has been a significant change in the senior management team – leadership needs a chance to lead,” said the ADCS response.
Dave Hill, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “A poor Ofsted judgement can lead to a high staff turnover from senior leaders through to frontline staff. Creating turmoil in an already struggling local authority, making it difficult to do what is most important - turning around services for children, young people and families in need. As stated in the ADCS consultation response the timing between the original inspection and subsequent re-inspection of services is critical if we are to truly transform services. The overriding concern should be the local authority’s view of their own progress but this is not to say the Department for Education does not have an important role to play in monitoring the progress being made.”
Ofsted also proposes to focus re-inspections on the areas of weakness which are the reasons for the inadequate judgement to ensure the re-inspection focuses on the areas of practice most in need of improvement – a move welcomed by ADCS. Where an authority is found to be inadequate in all judgement areas, the re-inspection will mirror a full single inspection to ensure that sufficient progress has been made against the full scope of the original inspection.
The inspectorate also proposes to publish the judgement in a letter setting out progress made against the weaknesses identified at the last inspection. The letter will identify where any of the weaknesses are now considered strengths and any that still require improvement.
ADCS welcomed the move saying: “ADCS has long argued that single worded judgements do not accurately reflect the complex realities of children’s services. Greater use of a narrative result is therefore welcome.”