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ILACS Framework - comment

New inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) framework

Steve Crocker, Chair of the Association’s Standards, Performance and Inspection Policy Committee, said:

“Every director of children’s services wants to ensure that children, young people and families in their local area are protected and supported by safe, high quality services. Robust and effective inspection of our services is an important part of the continuous improvement journey all local authorities are on. Our concerns about the single inspection framework are well known so a move away from a ‘one size fits all’ model to one that is flexible and considers individual circumstances is to be welcomed, as is the focus on prevention and offering support to local authorities at the earliest opportunity. However, our preference for a wholly narrative judgement is well known. Graded judgements, can and do, hide a multitude of strengths and weaknesses, and there is no certainty that two local authorities with the same judgements are providing the same quality of service and achieving the same outcomes for children in their area. A poor Ofsted judgement can lead to a high staff turnover from senior leaders through to frontline staff. Making it difficult to turn around services for children, young people and families in need by creating turmoil in an already struggling local authority.

“We believe that inspection has three core functions. It must facilitate learning that supports local authorities to develop their services and drive improvements in outcomes for children. It should ascertain whether the range of services being provided lead to better outcomes for children and their families and that inherent risks are being appropriately managed - whilst also considering the significant impact of reduced local authority budgets. And it is a vehicle through which public sector organisations are held to account for the effectiveness of outcomes achieved for children and their families in relation to expenditure. Whilst ADCS welcomes the new inspection model in principle it will take time to work through the finer details of the framework published today and to carefully analyse and reflect upon how the framework is implemented by inspectors in the first phase of the new inspections next year.”


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