Schools could face new mental health inspections

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Ofsted announces plans for new joint inspections of services for children with mental ill health, says John Roberts in the TES.

Inspectors will be checking whether schools have systems in place to identify children whose mental health is deteriorating, under a new inspection regime. Schools will be included in new joint area inspections which will examine how local services respond to children living with mental ill health.

It was announced in mid-July that joint targeted area inspections (JTAI) – involving Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and HMI Probation – will begin in September this year.

As part of the process, inspectors will carry out a “deep-dive inspection” of how agencies assess and support the mental health of children aged 10-15 who are subject to child-in-need or child-protection plans, or are a looked-after child.

The process will also look at whether “schools have systems in place to help identify children whose mental health may be deteriorating or who are suffering mental ill health”. And inspectors will check whether schools make “timely referrals to early help or specialist mental health services and to children’s social care when appropriate.” 

Ofsted’s national director for social care, Yvette Stanley, said:

“At a time when local authorities and their health partners are making difficult decisions about resources, it’s important that the needs of children with mental ill health are being met.

“We are all responsible for children’s mental health. We don’t expect frontline practitioners to diagnose conditions, but we do expect them to be able to identify concerns and to know where to turn to for advice and support.

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