What are the things likely to get you on and keep you on Ofsted’s radar?
Simply put, Ofsted’s priority is to ensure that you are safeguarding children in your care and providing them with high-quality care and support that helps them progress. You can achieve this by having a skilled and experienced manager, a well-managed and trained staff team, expert help when needed, and professional independent ‘critical’ oversight.
An increase in inadequate inspections would indicate a problem with some providers maintaining acceptable levels of care. In particular, many residential children’s homes and residential family centres established during the pandemic seem to be failing their inspections early on in their inspection life cycle.
An inspection snapshot
If you were to take a snapshot of Ofsted reports on any given day, you are looking at statistics that show that sometimes the essential elements of care are not being met.
- 4 children’s homes rated good
- 4 children’s homes rated requires improvement
- 5 children’s homes rated inadequate or where serious safeguarding issues have been identified
Out of 13 reports released today, Ofsted found only 4 to be good enough.
Here are a few quotes from reports for residential children’s homes recently rated inadequate.
Overall experiences and progress of children (SSCIF)
‘Children do not live in a safe and welcoming home. There is extensive damage and unsanitary conditions around the home, examples of which include cigarette and lighter burns on furniture and external doors and food and drinks thrown around the walls and onto furniture. The kitchen cupboard doors have been damaged, and the oven door has been pulled off. Managers have not directed staff to maintain communal areas of the home and garden to an acceptable standard for children.’ Ofsted Inspection Report.
How well children and young people are helped and protected (SSCIF)
‘Poor matching and decision-making by managers have affected the overall stability of the home and place children at risk of serious harm. Children are influenced by the behaviours of other children. This has resulted in an increase in substance misuse for children and the presentation of other behaviours that have not previously been known or apparent.’ Ofsted Inspection Report
The effectiveness of leaders and managers (SSCIF)
‘Not all staff receive the training they need to care effectively for children. This includes mandatory training in child protection, health and safety, and medication administration. In addition, not all staff receive specialist training in caring for children with autistic spectrum disorders, despite this being the expertise of the home.’ Ofsted Inspection Report.
If you are running a home that is not good enough for children to live in, how is that good enough for you as the provider? Surely your ambition is to have a successful business where children thrive?
Are you asking?
- Why didn’t we know our home was not good enough before our Ofsted inspection, and whom were we trusting to ensure it was?
- What immediate changes do we need to make to ensure children are safe and well-supported now and in the future?
- What lessons have we learned, and how will we prevent a repeat scenario?
If you don’t answer those vital questions or make the improvements or change needed before more requirements are heaped on top, you will become stuck in a rut of never-ending inspection, having continuous stressful enforcement action taken against you and eventual closure.
You must ensure you are surrounded by people who know what they are doing, who understand the regulations and who can run your home to the required standards to help children become safer and make good progress. That is your measure of success, and your success depends on it.
How can a manager, staff team or provider possibly get to the stage where they think the examples above are acceptable? That is the question they must ask and answer before they can even begin to put things right.
And most importantly,
What do they need to do to ensure this never happens again?