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BASW accuses Ofsted of giving ‘mixed messages’

Ofsted has now revealed that adoption breakdown will be factored into inspections, despite no reference to this issue when it announced that only local authorities who place children for adoption within 12 months will be graded ‘outstanding’.

Commenting on the development, Nushra Mansuri, BASW professional officer, said: “We appear to be getting mixed messages from Ofsted on the issue of adoption. Ofsted initially rushed to support the government’s latest salvo, in which ministers said they wanted local authorities to speed up care decisions, with their comments about ensuring tougher inspections on adoption services.

“Now there appears to be some backpedalling by Ofsted with a statement from its press office that “inspectors will consider available data on placement disruption as part of the wide range of evidence which will inform inspection”, yet there is still no reference to adoption breakdowns in the actual inspection framework. How can social workers have faith in the revised inspection regime?

“Last week’s media announcement on 12 month adoption deadlines did much to alienate the profession, and reinforce the view that, in spite of Munro’s recommendations and a call for an end to the blame culture, very little has changed when it comes to the children’s social care inspectorate.

“What is needed is a cohesive framework which includes the thorough examination of adoption breakdown data, including taking in to account the individual circumstances of a case.

“We want to see an effective inspection process that properly evaluates the adoption process to minimise any trauma that could be caused to the children it affects.

“It would help if Ofsted would finally begin playing a part in solving the problems facing local authorities. It could start by pushing the government to centrally record data on adoption breakdowns, since a better grasp of the causes of this will serve children better in the long term.

“Unfortunately, the Ofsted brand has not been a popular one amongst social workers and so mixed messages are not the way to inspire confidence from the sector. However, BASW continues to call for a constructive dialogue between Ofsted and social workers in order that we can move forward.”