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Positive And Significant Change To The SCCIF: Dialogue In Inspection.

Positive and significant change to the SCCIF: dialogue in inspection.

In the guidance issued 19th January 2024 Ofsted use the same wording that many leading advocates for ‘relationship regulation’ (NCERCC will be publishing on this subject in the near future) have used over many years: “constructive professional dialogue”.

This is strengthened in the following at appears very early in the guidance,

At the heart of our inspections is a constructive, respectful and empathetic dialogue between inspectors and providers.

A quick bit of history

At the onset of inspection and regulation (NCSC, CSCI) dialogue was an essential element.

The removal was staunchly opposed with the adverse potential, many of which have been experienced, well articulated.

The task in the here and now

Now is not the time for retrospection but to focus on the here and now.

In welcoming the return of dialogue, we need to understand the workings of the definition: the methodology, the equality of inspector and regulator perspectives, the mediation, even arbitration, of differing views.

This is urgent work.

Here is a place to start

There have been recent reports regarding the inspection of schools and Ofsted by the National Education Union, Institute for Government, and Institute for Public Policy Research, these coalesce around a definition, also supported by Assoc of School and College Leaders, that “dialogue” is defined as having a “collegial, collaborative conversation”.

How this is done differs across the globe. This will be addressed in the forthcoming NCERCC report.

What the guidance says

Guidance issue date 19th January 2024

Ofsted’s handbooks and frameworks updates: January 2024

Updates that will be made to Ofsted handbooks and frameworks following changes to the way it works. Equivalent changes will be made to all the Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF) handbooks appropriate to each provider type

NOTE – the changes here are not ordered as in the guidance. They have been arranged for ease of reading.

The following changes are now included in the SCCIF for children’s homes

At the heart of our inspections is a constructive, respectful and empathetic dialogue between inspectors and providers.

Inspectors will work constructively with providers and staff, demonstrating professionalism, courtesy, empathy and respect at all times.

(The inspector always meets with the registered manager/person in charge at the beginning of the inspection to:..)

  • check the registered manager’s welfare, and whether any steps need to be taken to ensure their well-being. This should include being clear how to contact who is responsible for their welfare on a day-to-day basis, to be able to pass on welfare concerns when appropriate and necessary
  • provide the opportunity to raise any issues, concerns or seek clarification about the inspection and explain how the provider can raise any matters during the inspection itself.

In most cases inspectors will want to have confidential conversations with the staff and will usually ask to speak to them alone so the staff can express their views freely. However, individuals may ask to have a colleague present to support them if they prefer.

If inspectors see that a staff member is upset or distressed at any point during the inspection, inspectors will respond sensitively. Where appropriate, inspectors will consider suitable adjustments to enable the staff member to continue. Where appropriate, inspectors will inform those responsible for the person’s well-being. The inspector will also contact their manager/regional duty manager to take advice.

Inspectors will agree a process for keeping managers informed of progress throughout the inspection. This will normally mean regular meetings with managers to enable them to raise concerns or seek clarification. This will include informing managers if there is evidence that the service may be judged inadequate. The inspector will emphasise that final judgements are not made until the feedback meeting at the end of the inspection.

To help managers understand how the inspection is progressing, and to continue the constructive professional dialogue where meetings are held to keep them informed of emerging findings, the manager can be accompanied by a colleague where appropriate. This will allow them to raise any issues or concerns or to seek clarification, including related to the conduct of the inspection.

If the registered manager is not present, inspectors will agree a process with the responsible individual (if available) for keeping other people informed of progress throughout the inspection.

If the feedback is likely to be challenging or is likely to raise sensitive issues, the inspector will be sympathetic to the implications of this feedback. The inspector will discuss with the provider which other people should attend to ensure the necessary support is given. Attendance at the feedback meeting is voluntary and any attendee may leave at any time.

ensure that the provider has the opportunity to raise any issues, concerns or seek clarification about the inspection, and can contact Ofsted on the working day after the end of the inspection, if needed

Any concerns raised, and actions taken, will be recorded in the inspection evidence.

If [, during the inspection,] the provider is unable to resolve the matter with the inspector, they should contact the inspector’s RIM for further discussion.

[If an issue remains unresolved, the provider can contact Ofsted on the working day after the end of an inspection. This will be an opportunity for the provider to raise informal concerns about the inspection process or outcomes, queries about next steps or to highlight information they feel was not fully considered during the inspection. This will be directed to a RIM separate to the inspection to discuss and to resolve, where appropriate, at the earliest opportunity.]

If it is not possible to resolve concerns during the inspection, shortly after the inspection or through submitting comments in response to the draft report, the provider may wish to lodge a formal complaint when it receives the final report. The inspector will ensure that the provider is informed that it is able to make a formal complaint, and that information about how to complain is available on GOV.UK.

Managers may share the provisional inspection outcome and findings with whoever they deem appropriate, though providers may need to be cautious/sensitive to the risk of provisional outcomes that may be subject to change potentially being shared with children when this could create uncertainty for them. Provisional inspection outcomes may also be shared, in confidence, with others who are not involved with the setting. This may include colleagues, family members, medical advisers and/or their wider support group. However, the information should not be made public.

We expect managers to share the inspection outcome and findings with whoever they deem appropriate.

While it is important that we carry out our planned inspections wherever possible, we understand that sometimes there may be reasons that this is not possible. A provider may request a deferral of an inspection at the earliest opportunity/start of the inspection. This will be considered in line with our deferral policy. We make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.