SPI Policy Committee Update - February 2019

Standards, Performance & Inspection Policy Committee

The Standards, Performance & Inspection (SPI) Policy Committee met on Thursday 24 January in London. All local authorities (LAs) and trusts that had received either a short or standard visit under Ofsted’s ILACS framework in 2018 - the first full year of operation - were invited to this meeting to reflect on their experiences.

This wider group reflected that the ILACS was not as all-consuming as its predecessor, the SIF, however it was still intensive and the fluid nature of the fieldwork added an extra layer of complexity; inspectors followed their noses rather than a set timetable. Some key points raised in the discussion included:

  • Week zero cannot be considered as a notification period, the inspection begins the same day as the director of children’s services receives the call, this is an intensive period in which a significant volume of data is shared and key lines of enquiry are identified ahead of fieldwork
  • A mixed picture in terms of additional information requests emerged, some LAs were asked for a handful of things whilst others submitted hundreds of pages of additional evidence during the inspection
  • There is little focus on the corporate context within which children’s services operates and the ILACS does not consider partnership working in a meaningful way (one or two LA reps reported partners were drawn into the inspection, primarily via case file involvement), this was felt to be a significant shortcoming given the financial context we all work in.

In the final stages of this discussion the group reflected on the role of ADCS in supporting DCSs going through the inspection and wondered if there was an offer that could usefully be made by ADCS to LAs that are judged to be inadequate under the ILACS?

The group was then joined by representatives of the What Works Centre in Children’s Social Care – SCIE and Social Finance – to share their progress to date and to discuss the development of ‘insight communities’. The Centre is mining existing information, data and insights and is seeking to keep new burdens to a minimum. In time, it hopes to create a sharing platform for new and existing evidence. Most recently they’ve completed some work with an LA to look at the front door, tracking what happens when an initial contact to children’s social care is not accepted as a referral and a child’s journey over time. The Centre is keen to expand this work further with other LAs.

Beyond this the group considered the forthcoming themes for the multi-inspectorate’s joint area inspections: responses to children at risk of mental health issues; prevention; and, contextual safeguarding as well as Ofsted’s consultation on a new school inspection framework from September 2019 onwards. The framework pays much greater attention to inclusions, exclusions, off-rolling and gaming. SPI will lead on the development of the Association’s response to this exercise.

The group will meet again on 31 May jointly with the Association’s Educational Achievement Policy Committee to discuss shared areas of interest.

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