When the Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) inspectors arrive at a local authority Children and Young People’s directorate it’s a nervous time for everyone. This was particularly the case in the City of Leeds, UK in March 2015 when five years previously the inspectors had concluded that the Authority was failing to adequately safeguard children and young people. Concerns were so high that the government served a “notice to improve” which put in place an independent board to guide and support improvement.
Following the March 2015 inspection, Ofsted gave a “Good” rating for the Authority overall (and Ofsted is not renown for damning with faint praise) and significantly, an “Outstanding” rating for leadership, management and governance. To put these ratings into context, it should be noted that in 2014, of the 33 local authorities inspected by Ofsted, overall none were rated ‘outstanding’ and only 9 (less than a third) rated ‘good’. Also in 2014, only 1 authority was rated ‘outstanding’ on leadership, management and governance and just 11 rated ‘good’. In other words, this was a remarkable turnaround.
What is heartening is that the report (which can be read in full here) acknowledges the impact of the Outcome Based Accountability™ approach which has been championed by the Director of Children’s Services, Nigel Richardson. The story of the Leeds turnaround is profiled in Mark Friedman’s book “Turning Curves: An Accountability Companion Reader” (published 2015 by Parse Publishing) and the case study is reproduced in full here with the publisher’s permission.