Ofsted Inspection of Children's Services - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted)

  I was grateful for the opportunity to appear before Members and give evidence last month. The Committee's scrutiny is a key accountability mechanism for Ofsted, and I welcome the chance to respond to questions and present our view.

  During the proceedings, and as part of her questioning on Warrington local authority, Helen Southworth asked (questions 108 and 125) for information on those authorities that had seen a significant variation in judgements between their Annual Performance Assessment (APA) and what she referred to as a "full inspection".

  As I hope I made clear at the time, the APA (which Ofsted no longer carries out) was essentially a data-driven exercise, and we have since moved to an annual Children's Services assessment based on the outcomes of the inspections across all services and settings, including the unannounced inspections of contact, assessment and referral services and the three yearly rolling programme inspections of safeguarding and looked after children.

  There are only two local authorities where there has been a significant difference between assessments carried out as a result of an annual performance assessment and in subsequent full inspections of safeguarding. These are Haringey and Warrington—both of which dropped two grades from good to inadequate as a result of a full inspection of safeguarding. This was the case for Haringey in 2008 and Warrington in 2009.

  In 2009 seven councils had their ratings limited by one grade to adequate due to findings of unannounced safeguarding inspection visits (Calderdale, Knowsley, Nottinghamshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Redbridge and Salford).

  Also in 2009, three councils had their rating limited by one grade to performs poorly due to findings from unannounced inspections of safeguarding (Leeds, Rotherham, Birmingham) and three had their rating limited to performs poorly due to findings of the full inspections of safeguarding and looked after children (Cornwall, Warrington, Haringey).

Christine Gilbert CBE

HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills

April 2010

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