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New era of assessment

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The arrival of the comprehensive area assessment from April will see a change in focus for both inspectors and councils.

The publication of the final comprehensive performance assessment (CPA) results in the coming weeks clears the decks for the arrival of comprehensive area assessment from April.

It can’t be said too often: this is a very different approach. Our trials have shown that CAA will require just as big a culture shift for councils and their partners as for the inspectorates.

First, and most obviously, CAA is no longer just about councils. It focuses on the local priorities you are tackling with your partners. This will be the first time local partners are held collectively to account for their contribution to outcomes - our aim is that this becomes constructive pressure for effective partnership working.

We’ll be less interested in process than results. This means that CAA can adapt to new circumstances without laborious changes to the framework. So in this first year, we expect our area assessments to address the impact of the recession on your area and your priorities, and how well you and your partners are responding.

CAA will be less reliant on major inspections. We will focus primarily on good-quality information on outcomes. The more inspectorates can rely on the robust information you use to manage your business, the less we will need to ask you for specially prepared self assessments.

Build an effective working relationship with your CAA lead so they quickly develop a good understanding of how it’s really going. Help ensure members are fully engaged in this dialogue.

Of course, some inherently high-risk services for vulnerable people (such as safeguarding arrangements for children) will continue to receive attention everywhere. But the fact that inspectorates will be delivering the CAA assessments jointly means that we be able to deliver on the long-standing promise to co-ordinate our activity and make it proportionate to risk and performance.

It will also allow us to ensure that our respective organisational assessments of key local partners reflect our understanding of their contribution to shared priorities.

This approach will allow us to develop our assessments with you and avoid surprises when it comes to reporting in November. We want our reporting to help you with your improvement planning as well as provide new and useful information for the public.

Finally, we will also aim to improve the process as we go. Your feedback will be an important part of this.

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