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Response to the coroner’s verdict following inquest into Ruth...

John Pearce, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:

“Directors of children’s services, and their teams, understand all too well the heavy burden of inspection on the health and wellbeing of the individuals working in organisations being inspected, from senior leaders through to frontline staff. This has been brought into sharp focus by tragic events earlier this year, and by today’s verdict. Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Ruth Perry.

“It is right that all of children’s services, including schools, are held to account for the important work that they do with children, and the outcomes they achieve. When there are issues, robust action should be taken to secure rapid improvement. Inspection should have a positive impact at a system level, providing assurance and supporting learning, and always be grounded in improving outcomes for children and young people and empowering staff.

“ADCS has long maintained that single worded judgements tell a partial and negative story, running the risk of weakening the very services the inspectorates seek to improve. Often, the consequences that follow a poor inspection outcome are disproportionate and have an unintended ripple effect across the workforce. A poor inspection outcome can lead to a high staff turnover making it difficult to address the very issues raised and ultimately improve services for children and families.

“There is a clear need for a wider debate about the role and impact of inspection with government, who are responsible for commissioning the framework for inspecting schools, local authorities and other public services, and critically, the interventions and consequences that follow. Meaningful change can only be delivered by government as the ultimate regulator, rather than individual inspectorates and this requires an open dialogue.”


The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

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