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Schools set for fresh Ofsted scrutiny under child protection checks

Schools will face fresh Ofsted scrutiny under new plans to inspect how well local agencies work together on child protection issues.

The watchdog will carry out a round of “short, sharp, targeted” inspections in which it will work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorates of Constabulary (HMIC) and Probation.

The new checks will examine how well schools, councils, police forces, probation services and the NHS work together to protect children.

The inspectorates will focus on “specific areas of concern” in a local area.

These could include child sexual exploitation, early intervention, child neglect or other areas of concern raised through “local intelligence” or previous inspection evidence, an Ofsted spokeswoman told TES.

She said Ofsted and other inspectorates would inspect six local areas between autumn 2015 and March 2016.

Decisions about the areas to target would be made by the inspectorates, she said, adding that a consultation would begin “shortly” about the criteria by which these decisions would be made.

She said Ofsted would “work with the sector and government officials to identify where targeted inspections may support improvement.”

The announcement was made as the watchdog revealed that its latest attempt to pilot “integrated” inspections had been unsuccessful. Two pilot checks, in which Ofsted, the CQC, HMIC, HMI Probation and HMI Prisons carried out separate inspections at the same time, proved to be “difficult and challenging for the inspectors and those being inspected”, a report acknowledged.

It said the methodology behind the pilots “did not add enough inspection value to enable a proper multi-agency evaluation of services for vulnerable families, children and young people living in that local authority area”. As a result they would not be rolled out, and the six “targeted” checks would be tried in their place.

It is the second time that the watchdog has called off plans for “integrated” inspections, having previously done so in April 2013 after admitting that pilots of the scheme raised problems it was “unable to ignore”. 

Related stories:

Ofsted announces another U-turn on no-notice inspections – 9 October, 2014

Ofsted launches wave of no-notice school inspections – 15 September, 2014

Ofsted scraps grades for individual lessons – 31 August, 2014

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