Ofsted report of Court advisory ‘outstanding’


Ofsted has published it’s full report of the full inspection of independent court advisory service Cafcass which took place earlier this year, and has judged all three areas of inspection to be ‘outstanding’- a marked improvement since their last inspection in 2018 where they were judged to be ‘Good’.

Inspectors evaluated a range of evidence, including the case records of over 600 children. They spoke with more than 300 practitioners and managers and observed court work and interviews with children and families as well as supervisions and team meetings.

Complaints were also evaluated, alongside quality assurance data and arrangements for management oversight of practice and strategic leadership. Inspectors spoke with partners including judges, local authorities, the Family Justice Young People’s Board, the Cafcass Family Forum and officials at both the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Education

The framework for inspection requires Ofsted to make a graded judgement in three areas of Cafcass’ work, which are: the quality and effectiveness of private law practice ,the quality and effectiveness of public law practice and the impact of leaders on practice.

The report describes an organisation with an ‘unstinting’ focus on children’s safety, ensuring that their voices are not just heard, but understood. Inspectors reported on consistently high standards of practice, resulting in high-quality advice being provided to the family court that is in the best interests of children.

Ofsted found that child engagement is strong and highly effective, stating that ‘practitioners take time to understand how best to communicate with children, considering any disabilities or communication needs they may have’.

Cafcass Chief Executive, Jacky Tiotto said:

“I would like to extend the biggest thank you to everyone working at Cafcass, to our partners and to the Cafcass Board for helping to secure this important outcome. We welcome challenge and scrutiny and take very seriously the feedback that we received throughout the inspection and in this report published today. The whole organisation is committed to children, their families and carers and every single person works relentlessly to keep trying to learn and improve.

“One of the most important things inspectors reported was that they saw evidence of Family Court Advisers and Children’s Guardians giving critical and enduring advice to the family court, that centres on children’s safety, welfare and best interests. They saw complex information being carefully and sensitively balanced to try and secure the right arrangements for families and their children. This is what we exist to do for a huge number (c143,000) of children every year. All our advice and every single decision matters. I am so pleased that our focus and ambitions in this regard are making a difference and supporting continuous improvement and change for children. “

The quality of private law practice has continued to improve, and this is making what Ofsted called an ‘exceptional difference’ to children’s experiences. Also, Family Court Advisers (FCAs) were reported to be attuned to the varied and nuanced risks children face as a result of adult-based issues such as parental conflict, domestic abuse and substances misuse. When undertaking safeguarding interviews with adults, FCAs were seen to be able to skilfully elicit key information and negotiate adults through ‘often intractable, highly sensitive situations’.

Since the previous inspection, Osted said ‘there is a palpable cultural change across the workforce via a new relationship-based model of practice’.

Chair of the Cafcass Board, Sally Cheshire said:

“The Board members and I could not be more pleased with this judgement from Ofsted. We believe strongly in the work that Cafcass does to support children and families and are delighted that Ofsted has seen and recognised the tangible and consistent improvements we have made to enhance the quality of our service since the last inspection in 2018. It is a real privilege to have been able to influence and support that improvement and I would like to recognise the huge effort and commitment of all our staff in doing their very best to support each and every child through the difficult pandemic period and beyond. We remain ambitious for the children and young people we represent, committed to learning and further improving consistency in our work, focused with our partners on reducing delay and acting in children’s best interests – in short, raising the bar so that each child receives an exceptional experience.”


One Response

  1. CAFCASS is a joke ! clearly hand in glove with Ofsted who are not much better . We deal with many parents who have been badly and wrongly treated by CAFCASS ad the NON abusing parent

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