Ofsted lacked expertise, watchdog MPs told

Ofsted has been beset with “a lack of strategic expertise and practitioner expertise” in its inspection of council children’s services departments, watchdog MPs have been told.

Dame Denise Platt told the Commons Children Schools and Families Select Committee that the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills had suffered from a shortage of senior officials capable of interpreting performance data.

The former chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection – which ceded its children’s services inspection role to the Ofsted in 2007 –  said that few of the 300 staff that transferred had high-level experience.

“The issue for Ofsted was that in the transfer, the majority of people that transferred to them were frontline inspectors and some business relationship managers, but nobody from the third-tier, or second tier upwards,” she said.

“Not many analysts with experience of interrogating data around children’s services transferred.

“So Ofsted were inhibited by not having senior experience.”

Directors of children’s services have long complained about the loss of the relationship between councils and regional business managers.

Ofsted has recently reintroduced a similar role to the former business managers.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Our inspectors are qualified and knowledgeable. We are confident that our inspections are robust, take account of the right information, ask the right questions and speak to the right people.

“Every inspector who takes part in an inspection of social care and child protection services has extensive experience of child protection and a social work qualification.

“When the new Ofsted was created in 2007, the vast majority of children’s inspectors in the then Commission for Social Care Inspection transferred to the new organisation.

“These were the people with the on the ground experience of inspection. We have built on this experience. We have successfully recruited more social care HMI, many coming directly from the front line, and will be continuing to add to our numbers this year. We have also recently appointed a new Development Director, Social Care.”