Schools will be quizzed under new mental health inspections

Schools in some parts of the country will be contacted by inspectors and asked to explain how they support pupils with mental ill health under plans for one-off “joint inspections” of local services.

Ofsted, along with inspectorates covering the healthcare, police, fire and probation services, will launch joint targeted area inspections in six areas in September. The areas have not been named, and won’t be notified until 10 working days before fieldwork begins.

As part of the inspections, inspectors will track the experiences of between five and seven children who are living with mental ill health and use local multi-agency services.

The schools of children selected for tracking will be contacted by an Ofsted inspector as part of the process. The inspector will discuss with staff “what the school does to support the child and the school’s involvement in multi-agency planning and support”.

The inspections will look to identify whether schools have systems in place to “help identify children whose mental health may be deteriorating or who are suffering mental ill health”.

Inspectors will also assess whether schools make “timely referrals” to early help or specialist mental health services, and to children’s social care “when appropriate”, and whether pupils receive support within the school and/or from external agencies to “meet their needs”.

They will also be looking to see that schools “contribute to inter-agency working to improve outcomes for children who are on child in need or child protection plans, or are children in care, and who have mental health needs”. This includes contributing to a “coordinated offer of inter-agency planning to meet the range of risks and needs of these children”.

Schools won’t be graded individually on the outcomes of the inspections, but the findings will be published in a letter to local partnerships, which will “clearly set out what they are doing well and what they need to do to improve”.