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Ofsted announces delay to start of inspections of supported accommodation

The children’s education and social care inspectorate was due to begin examining supported accommodation in April this year, but has delayed the first inspections until September.

04/03/24

Ofsted announces delay to start of inspections of supported accommodation

Ofsted says it will begin inspecting providers of supported accommodation for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 to 17 in September, instead of its planned start in April.

The inspectorate says the extra period “will give providers more time to digest the guidance, while Ofsted prioritises dealing with the large volume of registration applications, including many from providers that are already accommodating children and care leavers.”

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said: “We have agreed with the Department for Education that we will start these inspections in September 2024. This will allow us time to carry out registration checks on the high number of applications that we have received. It is crucial that we prioritise this work to ensure providers that are already accommodating children are suitable and safe.”

Ofsted also published the resulting guidance following consultation with providers, children, care leavers and the wider social care sector about how inspections can make sure supported accommodation services are helping children and keeping them safe.

The consultation ran from 10 July to 8 September 2023 and received 280 responses, including 58 responses to a survey of young people. Overall, there was strong support for Ofsted’s 3 original proposals but, following careful consideration of the detailed responses, some changes have been made.

On the first proposal, Ofsted confirmed the ‘three outcomes’ model for the first round of supported accommodation inspections. However, the second outcome summary has been adjusted to ensure the quality of providers is captured accurately.

The 3 summary outcomes are:
- “Consistently strong service delivery leads to typically positive experiences and progress for children. Where improvements are needed, leaders and managers take timely and effective action. The next inspection will be within approximately 3 years.”
- “Inconsistent quality of service delivery adversely affects some children’s experiences, and this may limit their progress. Leaders and managers must make improvements. The next inspection will be within approximately 18 months.”
- “Serious or widespread weaknesses lead to significant concerns about the experiences and progress of children. Leaders and managers must take urgent action to address failings. The next inspection will be within approximately 6 months.”

On the second proposal, Ofsted has confirmed that providers will be given just two working days’ notice before inspectors arrive on site. However, the inspection will start as soon as it is announced, meaning any information gathered in the two days before inspectors arrive – including conversations with young people and professionals - will form part of the inspection evidence.

On the third proposal, there was strong agreement about the features of effective supported accommodation, and feedback from respondents to the consultation has informed the final inspection guidance.

Ms Stanley continued that the insight of the care-experienced young people has been invaluable in developing the approach. “We are confident that our inspection framework will promote high expectations for all children and young people living in supported accommodation. And we will use the first round of inspections to inform future inspection arrangements, including how we make our judgements.”

Sir Martyn Oliver, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: “I’m really pleased that for the first time, Ofsted will be able to inspect supported accommodation in the interests of the young people who need it.”

“Where providers are offering young people high-quality and nurturing support, it can be transformative, but we know that too much provision isn’t good enough.”

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