The number of children’s homes judged by Ofsted to be failing has more than doubled over the past year, while those classed as achieving the highest standards have fallen 40 per cent.
Ofsted inspectors judged more homes to be failing in 2012/13 than the previous year
Provisional figures published today by the children’s services regulator shows that of the 1,986 children’s homes run by local authorities and independent sector providers to have undergone full inspections between April 2012 and March 2013, 309 (16 per cent) were classed as outstanding and 103 (five per cent) as inadequate.
By comparison, 518 of the 1,990 homes inspected in 2011/12 were judged to be outstanding (26 per cent) and 44 (two per cent) as inadequate.
A similar number of homes were assessed by Ofsted as being “good” between the two years (56 per cent in 2012/13 and 54 per cent in 2011/12), while the proportion classed as satisfactory/adequate rose slightly from 17 to 24 per cent over the two years.
However, the data suggests that a revised inspection framework introduced by Ofsted in April 2012 is resulting in fewer outstanding and more inadequate judgments, perhaps reflecting a toughening of standards expected from homes. The 2012/13 results brings scores almost exactly in line with those seen in 2010/11, after which a new inspection framework was introduced.
Regional analysis shows that London achieved the fewest homes with a good or better inspection grade – 57 per cent compared to an England average of 71 per cent. At 43 per cent, London also accounted for the most homes scoring an adequate or lower grade, compared to the England average of 29 per cent.
But the Independent Children’s Homes Association cautioned against comparing this year’s performance with previous years because the different inspection frameworks reflected different objectives given to Ofsted by the government.
Jonathan Stanley, chief executive of the the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA), said: “Potential government influence on the work of Ofsted needs also to be taken into account. The previous minster for children, Tim Loughton, called for ‘inspections with bite’. It may be that the effect of this can be seen in these statistics.
“It is next year’s statistics that should be telling us the picture, as long as there is no further pressure placed on inspections. We have to affirm the independence of Ofsted and its role in providing objective analysis.”
The report follows the launch last week of a consultation on standards in children’s homes by the government, which coincided with a damning BBC Panorama investigation highlighting the number of councils using homes rated inadequate by Ofsted.
SOURCE: Children & Young People Now