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Surprise checks to become the norm at children's homes

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Watchdog Ofsted is to carry out all children’s home inspections on a ‘surprise’ basis from April this year, according to its new inspection framework.

The children’s services regulator said inspections would be twice-yearly and carried out under soon-to-be-published Department for Education guidance.

The move is fuelled by recommendations from children in care and is aimed at showing inspectors homes as they really are.

Ofsted national inspection development director John Goldup said it was hoped that the new inspection framework would drive improvement.

“High-quality care has the potential to turn a young person’s life around. Poor-quality care can ruin it,” he said. “We need to be sure that inspection is absolutely focused on the things that make the most difference to children and young people.”

Of the twice-yearly inspections, one will be a full check, taking up to two days, while the other will be an interim inspection.

Overall judgements will be made on a three-point scale: “good progress”; “satisfactory progress”; or “inadequate progress”.

Ofsted said the new framework had already been tested with a series of pilots and full inspections.

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