A brave new world: is inspection improving children’s services

Although we missed it when first published in October, Professor Michael Bassey has brought to our attention a fascinating report commissioned by the Local Government Association into the extent that the current Ofsted inspection framework is helping (or otherwise) to drive improvement in council children’s service. 

Although concerned with inspection of local authority children’s services, Professor Bassey suggests the concerns expressed in the report (produced by iMPOWER for the LGA) may echo the concerns of many teachers about Ofsted inspections of schools. 

Here are some extracts from the executive summary:

One of Ofsted’s central roles is to ‘help providers that are not yet of a good standard to improve’. The LGA commissioned iMPOWER Consulting to look at the evidence to see how far the current Ofsted Single Inspection Framework is helping to drive improvement in council children’s services.

“The analysis undertaken for this report suggests that the regulator is falling significantly short of achieving its stated purpose and is, inadvertently, creating an environment in which it is becoming increasingly difficult for authorities to make the necessary improvements to deliver better services.

“The decline over the last eight years in the inspection performance of local authorities children’s services has been astounding. According to Ofsted’s 2007/08 Annual Report, 9% of councils inspected were considered ‘Outstanding’, 69% ‘Good’, and 22% ‘Adequate’. Not a single authority inspected was considered ‘Inadequate’. Today the world looks a very different place: none were “Outstanding’, 18% ‘Good”, 55% “Requiring Improvement”, and 28% ‘Inadequate’…

“The question that remains unsatisfactorily answered as part of this research is whether the Ofsted inspection framework is providing a true reflection of performance in children’s services. Certainly, there are a sizeable number of voices within the sector who are questioning the credibility of Ofsted’s ratings as valid proxies for assessing the performance in children’s services. Certainly whilst the ratings point to a pretty catastrophic drop in performance as judged by inspection even the inspectors have themselves acknowledged they could not tell definitively if things are actually getting better or worse.

“Professional expertise and statistical analysis is clearly pointing to things not being right. And, even if Ofsted is right in its judgements, clearly its aim of helping the sector improve is not being delivered…  The confidence in the current system of inspection is low…  The data appears to show that inspection is not driving improvement – quite the opposite…

See more on the research from the LGA at: A brave new world: is inspection improving children’s services?


Read or download the report in full:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/impower-LGA-report-v5-2.pdf”]


Your thoughts, feedback and reactions to the points made in this report?

Any particular similarities to how you see Ofsted functioning in schools?

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  1. The consequences of an Inadequate judgement on Children’s Services is v similar to the effects on schools:  disruption (change in leadership, resignation of the head, depressed morale, staff turbulence, reliance on supply staff), vilification in the media and loss of public confidence.

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