Ofsted’s annual children’s services ratings to be scrapped

Annual children’s services ratings from Ofsted are to be abolished, children’s minister Tim Loughton has announced.

In a letter to Ofsted, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Local Government Association and Solace, Loughton said the annual rating process would be halted “as soon as a suitable legislative opportunity can be identified”.

According to a statement on the Department for Education (DfE) website, the annual ratings add “little understanding of children’s services in an area” and “are not particularly helpful in aiding improvement”.

Until the annual ratings are abolished, the DfE has pledged to work with Ofsted to make sure the current inspections process is as simple and transparent as possible and does not create unnecessary burdens for local areas.

Government is also poised to revise Ofsted’s wider children’s services inspections framework, in line with “the drive for greater local accountability and freedoms”.

Any revamped framework will also be informed by Professor Eileen Munro’s review of child protection and Dame Clare Tickell’s review of the Early Years Foundation Stage. These changes are set to be announced during the first half of next year.

The 2010 annual children’s services ratings found that 20 local authorities are performing excellently, 77 well, 37 adequately and 12 poorly.

Six local authorities are yet to receive their annual rating, because Ofsted is awaiting the outcome of safeguarding and looked-after children’s services inspections in these authorities.

The government announced the scrapping of the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) earlier this year. The Ofsted annual rating fed into CAA.