Joint inspections for local councils

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The Independent Online
MOVES TO combine inspections of education authorities and social services were announced by the Government yesterday.

Ministers hope the joint inspections will help the most vulnerable children.

The first inspection by the Office for Standards in Education and the Social Services Inspectorate will take place in Northumberland next year.

Estelle Morris, school standards minister, said: "The pilot scheme recognises the links which exist between the services provided by local authorities. By bringing together these arrangements, I believe we can help reduce the burden on authorities preparing for separate inspections."

Denise Platt, chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate, said: "It is essential that education and social services departments work closely. Simultaneous reviews will help us find out if this is happening, and to identify whether there are key lessons to be learned about effective corporate management."

Officials say the new joint arrangements will not extend inspectors' remits, but will simplify the process. When they visit local authorities social services inspectors need access to much of the same information as Ofsted inspectors.

The two services also overlap in areas like special schools and some work with children who are sick or have been expelled from school.