Saturday, 30 March 2013

Disappointing news from Ofsted

When I heard that there was a vacancy for the head of social care inspection at Ofsted, I saw this as being an opportunity for the introduction of new talent and new ideas about how to conduct inspections into child safeguarding. 

However, I have learned, via a Freedom of Information Act request, that the post will now be covered by the regional director for London, as an addition to her other duties. I am told by the head of HR at Ofsted that: 

“We have taken the decision not to recruit to the former post of National Director, Social Care due to an internal re-organisation.  Debbie Jones is joining Ofsted in September as the Regional Director for London.  In addition to her RD role, given her vast experience and expertise in social care, she has agreed to be the Ofsted national lead for Social Care.” 

I think this is deeply worrying. It feels as if social care inspection is being drawn ever more tightly into a single inspection regime which, not surprisingly, is largely determined by Ofsted’s primary responsibility, the inspection of schools.

I have always been an advocate of a separate inspectorate for children’s social care. I think that the expertise required to inspect child protection is quite different from the expertise required to inspect schools. I would also like to see an independent inspectorate become a repository of knowledge about child safeguarding and protection, especially through carrying out more thematic inspections and research. Indeed I think it might also be a suitable body to carry out inquiries when things have gone very wrong, much as the Air Accident Investigation Branch does for civil aviation. 

And I think it should be led by somebody who has skills and talents both in child protection and more generally in organisational safety.