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Ofsted has a ‘blinkered’ approach to inspecting children’s services – LGA

Ofsted has a “blinkered” approach to inspecting children's services, which fails to assess the work of “crucial agencies”, the Local Government Association has warned.

The current inspection arrangements by Ofsted do not assess the contribution of agencies such as health and the police, instead focusing narrowly on council performance, the LGA said.

It claims that the regulator's own proposals to revamp inspection of children's services would continue to see Ofsted and other inspectorates work in “narrow silos”, conducting separate inspections at the same time rather than adopting a “fully multi-agency approach” that assesses the contribution of all agencies together.

The warning came as senior local government leaders convened yesterday at a summit on child sexual exploitation, jointly organised by the LGA, Solace and the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS). Politicians and senior council officers discussed how to better protect children in the future.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: "Keeping children safe is the most important thing that councils do, but we know we cannot do it alone. Protecting children does not fall only to councils, but to the police, health services, schools and local groups. Inspections must reflect this. It is not fair to the children we are working to protect that Ofsted inspections only focus on council children's services, failing to properly assess the essential work done by other organisations.

He added that every organisation involved in child protection should be examined during an inspection, and that processes need to adapt so that things don’t fall through the cracks.

Responding, an Ofsted spokesperson said the regulator shared the LGA’s commitment to protecting children and agrees with the need for an inspection approach that takes into account all the different services involved.

The spokesperson added: “We are working very closely with the Care Quality Commission and the criminal justice inspectorates to evaluate the recent pilot integrated inspections. Maximising the collaboration between inspectorates remains at the heart of how we believe we can continue to support improvement in the sector and contribute to sharing the best practice across all the agencies seeking to protect children from sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse and neglect.”  

The LGA has previously raised concerns that Ofsted is too media-focused and can no longer be relied upon to deliver trustworthy judgments.

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