Youth services must be inspected, urges ADCS

Youth services are being overlooked in local area inspections and not subjected to the same scrutiny as schools and social care settings, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has warned.

Under Ofsted’s new inspections, the results of which feed into Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) ratings, the majority of youth services are not inspected.

A handful of councils have been subject to three-day survey-style inspections of their integrated youth support services, but these are not graded or published.

Ofsted plans to publish a general report on the progress of integrated youth support nationally, but this will focus on highlighting best practice and will not name individual councils.

Marion Davis, vice-president of the ADCS, said youth services must be involved in a systematic programme of inspection as part of CAA.

She said: “This is a step backwards. Local authorities ought to get credit, or criticism, on the quality of their youth services. It’s a big part of what local authorities do. Most councils are spending a lot of money and employing lots of staff to work on these services.”

She added that not inspecting youth services could trigger a decline in the quality of provision. “There is always the fear that if something doesn’t attract an inspection score then it could be less of a priority,” she explained.

Davis said the watchdog should alter inspections to consider all children and young people’s services with equal weight.

“I would like the Ofsted framework to be a lot more integrated so that it gives an overview of how children’s trusts are performing and reflects everything directors of children’s services are responsible for,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said the inspectorate is planning to conduct a review of the CAA process, which will involve consultation early this year.