Ofsted confirms plans for inspecting supported accommodation

Ofsted has today published guidance for inspecting providers of supported accommodation and the outcome of the consultation

Ofsted has today published guidance for inspecting providers of supported accommodation for looked after children and care leavers aged 16 to 17.

The guidance follows extensive consultation – with providers, children, care leavers and the wider social care sector – about how inspections can make sure supported accommodation services are helping children and keeping them safe.

Read the guidance Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): supported accommodation

Ofsted has also today announced that these inspections will start in September 2024, rather than April. This extra period will give providers more time to digest the guidance, while Ofsted prioritises dealing with the large volume of registration applications, including many from providers that are already accommodating children and care leavers.

The consultation ran from 10 July to 8 September 2023 and received 280 responses, including 58 responses to a survey of young people. Overall, there was strong support for Ofsted’s 3 original proposals but, following careful consideration of the detailed responses, some changes have been made.

Read the ‘Proposals for inspecting supported accommodation’ consultation outcome.

On the first proposal, Ofsted has today confirmed the 3 outcomes model for the first round of supported accommodation inspections. However, the second outcome summary has been adjusted to ensure the quality of providers is captured accurately.

The 3 summary outcomes are:

Consistently strong service delivery leads to typically positive experiences and progress for children. Where improvements are needed, leaders and managers take timely and effective action. The next inspection will be within approximately 3 years.

Inconsistent quality of service delivery adversely affects some children’s experiences, and this may limit their progress. Leaders and managers must make improvements. The next inspection will be within approximately 18 months.

Serious or widespread weaknesses lead to significant concerns about the experiences and progress of children. Leaders and managers must take urgent action to address failings. The next inspection will be within approximately 6 months.

On the second proposal, Ofsted has confirmed that providers will be given 2 working days’ notice before inspectors arrive on site. However, the inspection will start as soon as it is announced, meaning any information gathered in the 2 days before inspectors arrive – including conversations with young people and professionals - will form part of the inspection evidence.

On the third proposal, there was strong agreement about the features of effective supported accommodation, and feedback from respondents to the consultation has informed the final inspection guidance.

Sir Martyn Oliver, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

"For young people who are leaving or preparing to leave care, supported accommodation can be an important part of their transition to independence.

"Where providers are offering young people high-quality and nurturing support, it can be transformative, but we know that too much provision isn’t good enough. I’m really pleased that for the first time, Ofsted will be able to inspect supported accommodation in the interests of the young people who need it."

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care:

"I would like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation, especially the care-experienced children and young people who shared their thoughts and expertise. Their insight has been invaluable in developing our approach to inspecting supported accommodation.

"We are confident that our inspection framework will promote high expectations for all children and young people living in supported accommodation. And we will use the first round of inspections to inform future inspection arrangements, including how we make our judgements.  

"We have agreed with the Department for Education that we will start these inspections in September 2024. This will allow us time to carry out registration checks on the high number of applications that we have received. It is crucial that we prioritise this work to ensure providers that are already accommodating children are suitable and safe."