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11th August 2015

Solace joint response with ADCS and the LGA to the consultation on Joint Targeted Area Inspections

The ADCS, the LGA, and Solace have today, Tuesday 11 August, submitted a formal response to the consultation issued by Ofsted on plans to introduce a new joint targeted area inspection (JTAI).

The recognition that local authorities are not the sole agency responsible for safeguarding children was welcomed by the three associations, as was the planned use of a narrative judgement. However, a number of issues were also raised in the joint response.

It is unclear if the proposed ‘deep dive’ element of the JTAI will offer the same benefit as the current thematic inspections, for example, or the value of applying this multiagency exercise to a single agency – local authorities – as the consultation suggests. ADCS, the LGA, and Solace are concerned about the further burden these two new inspections will place on local authorities in addition to the SIF (Single Inspection Framework).

Phil Norrey, Solace spokesperson for Children and Families and Chief Executive of Devon County Council, said: “Whilst we welcome the recognition from Ofsted that the work local areas undertake to protect children is multiagency, we are concerned that coming on top of, not instead of, existing inspection frameworks, these proposals will add more pressure to already stretched services. The whole Ofsted system needs a radical rethink, and this is not what is being offered here.”

Alison O’Sullivan, President of ADCS, said: “Our members value the robust and effective inspection of our services and we have no difficulty being held to account for our use of public funds. We have previously called for an inspection regime that takes into account the contributions of all safeguarding partners to achieving better outcomes for children and young people. Sadly the complexity of this work is not yet reflected in these plans and I am not convinced that the JTAI will add to our understanding of issues such as child sexual exploitation, radicalisation or disruption of gangs.”

Cllr David Simmonds CBE, Local Government Association spokesman, said: “Keeping children safe is the most important thing that councils do, but we know we cannot do it alone. We have long argued that inspecting the agencies involved in child protection separately does not provide a true picture of how they are working together which is key to protecting children.

“This new level of joined-up inspections does nothing to solve this issue but merely adds another layer. We want to see the inspectorates bite the bullet and introduce a new joint inspection which fully replaces all other current inspections as soon as possible.”


The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is a politically-led, cross-party organisation that works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible national voice.