Ofsted plans to move towards a “more proportionate and targeted” inspection model over the next two years, a senior figure at the regulator has revealed.
Speaking at the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference last week, Ofsted’s deputy director for social care policy Lisa Pascoe said ‘joint targeted area inspections’ would start in January and were likely to be one strand of a wider package of inspections in future.
She told delegates the new regime was at a very early stage of development but the intention was to produce a form of universal inspection which was “more nimble” both for Ofsted, which will have budget targets to meet under the spending review, and for councils.
If the universal inspection identifies concerns it could be followed by one of three other types of inspections – a targeted inspection, an inspection under the current single inspection framework or a joint targeted area inspection - depending on the issues raised.
Ms Pascoe told LGC it was right that Ofsted should “move on to something proportionate and targeted” once it had inspected all 152 authorities with children’s services responsibilities under its current model. This milestone is expected to be reached soon.
A targeted inspection could be based on a theme or an area. This could generate a report for each authority plus another one gathering together findings on the theme from several councils.
Councils with more significant problems could still be subjected to review under the single inspection framework inspection rather than a targeted inspection, but it is still being decided whether this will be the case, Ms Pascoe said.
Joint targeted area inspections will be carried out in areas where there were concerns about joint working and will focus on a locality, rather than simply a council. Ms Pascoe told delegates it would cover public organisations within a local authority boundary and will draw on the work of other inspectorates such as HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted’s schools inspection work.
Ms Pascoe said: “It is an inspection of organisations based in the local authority’s boundaries but it is clearly not a local authority inspection. It is an inspection of how partners are working together.”
The focus for the 2015-16 joint targeted areas will be child sexual exploitation in order to fulfil the ministerial commitment to reviewing progress in that area. Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s interim national director for social care at Ofsted told the conference there would be “no more than six and probably four”, which will start after Christmas, plus a pilot to be done before Christmas.