Having been with Ofsted for over a year now, I want to start sharing some of my thoughts with more people. That way, I hope we can have a conversation about the big issues that social workers and other social care professionals deal with in their working day.
I also want to be able to counter some of the prevailing myths about social care inspections, and discuss what is really best for children.
I believe we must all have the highest possible aspirations for each and every child, regardless of their background. However, I think our focus on the final outcome has meant that we have not always considered more important matters - for example, how much improvement has been made since the last time a social worker saw a child, or whether or not the residential staff feel well-equipped to help children with their homework.
If we’re to get it right for children in care, we really need to find ways to support their learning, with local authorities acting like the tiger mothers we read about so frequently in the press.
Over the coming months I want to look at the impact of inspection, and at some of the other issues that have been highlighted through inspection and have now entered the national debate.
One of those is caseloads - something I feel particularly strongly about. Determining the right number of cases is complex, but social workers and inspectors know when caseloads are too high.
I also want to write more about how we inspect the impact of social work on children. Talking to social workers - something our inspectors always do - is one of the most revealing ways of understanding how children’s lives are being improved. We will of course continue these conversations under the new inspection arrangements for local authority children’s services that come in January 2018.
Rewards and challenges
Another thing I want to discuss are the rewards and challenges of working directly with children and caring for them on a day-to-day basis in our children’s homes, in foster homes, in residential special schools, and in all the other places children live or visit.
Our new common inspection arrangements for social care are on the horizon. In the coming weeks, I will write more about what they are, and about what we have learnt from the pilots. Once we start inspecting under the new framework, in April, I will reflect on how it's working in practice.
There will be more to say on these subjects soon. In the meantime, I would welcome your feedback and suggestions for any other topics you would like me to talk about in my future blog posts. You can, if you wish, post comments below.