What happens if your children's services are judged inadequate by Ofsted?

As lead member you hold political responsibility for the leadership, strategy and effectiveness of council children’s services and will work closely with the director of children’s services (DCS) who carries the professional accountability.

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The lead member for children’s services (LMCS) is also accountable to the local community for delivering improved outcomes for children and families while also improving productivity and value for money to meet the financial challenges facing your authority.

The Ofsted inspection places a lot of pressure on all staff, but particularly the DCS and senior managers, so you should be aware of this. The inspection process is resource intensive and will create pressures across children’s services. The Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) has now been introduced and will be the mainstay of Ofsted’s inspection work for at least the next few years. The general consensus is that the framework is an improvement on its predecessor (the Single Inspection Framework, SIF) as it offers a stronger continuous and shared commentary on an authority’s performance through annual self-evaluation of the quality and impact of practice with families and related ‘annual engagement meetings’, a wider range of less intensive visits and inspections (focused visit). The ILACS inspection event still retains the capacity to have the most profound impact on children’s services and the wider authority and partnership.

Moving on and responding to the judgement can be a difficult process if the overall inspection outcome is negative. The inspection report is embargoed until the publication of the final report by Ofsted when there may be considerable media and local interest. There will be the need to communicate the outcome to all stakeholders early, especially those staff and partners who were involved in the inspection process, and who will be closely involved in developing and implementing the improvement plan. Once the Ofsted report is published councils that have been in this position report considerable benefit in writing a contextual webpage and a council report or press release to accompany the report. The DfE will be made aware of inadequate inspection outcomes once they have been confirmed internally by Ofsted and before publication (usually around the same time that Ofsted share the draft report with the local authority for factual accuracy comments). Discussions with the council concerned are therefore likely to start before publication of the inspection report. The DfE would encourage councils that have been rated as inadequate to contact them as soon as the judgement is known so that a package of support can be agreed.