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Official Statistics Release

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Official Statistics Release

Policy area:

Children looked after placement data collection


Education, children’s services and skills

Published on:

12 June 2014



Period covered:

31 March 2013



Issued by:

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted)
Aviation House
125 Kingsway



Adam King

Statistician’s telephone number:

0300 013 0020

Public enquiries:

Press enquiries:

Link to official statistics release web page:

Publication medium:

Ofsted website

Publication frequency:


Next publication date:



Key Points 3

Introduction 3

Why is our data different to DfE published data? 5

What type of placements were children living in? 6

Quality of children’s placements 7

How long had children been in their placements? 9

Where were children living? 10

Location of placements 10

Distance from local authority boundary 11

Out of country placements 14

Characteristics of the areas in which children looked after were living 15

Rural/Urban 15

Deprivation 15

Crime 18

Children living in placements not inspected by Ofsted 19

Children who are missing 20

Independent Living, 20

Providers of children’s social care 21

Provider Type 21

Sector 22

Volume and Capacity 26

Children’s Homes 26

Fostering 28

Commissioning and ownership 28

Private and voluntary organisations 29

Children’s homes 29

Independent fostering services 29

Methodology 30

List of tables and charts 31

Glossary 32

Key Points

  • Children and young people living in independent living are almost twice as likely to live in the most deprived areas of the country as children in other placement types. Around half of these children and young people were living in the most deprived areas, as at 31 March 2013. Five per cent lived in the least deprived. Over half were living in areas with the highest crime levels and 4% were living in areas with the lowest crime levels.

  • Overall, children living in children’s homes are slightly less likely to live in the most deprived areas of the country than children who are fostered.

  • Around two thirds of children looked after were living within their local authority boundary. Five per cent were living more than 50 miles from their local authority.

  • Seventy-one per cent of children placed for adoption had been in their placement for less than six months; 9% were in placement for more than 12 months.


  1. Local authorities are required to submit an annual data return, the SSDA903, to the Department for Education which includes information about all of their children looked after, including information about where they are living, i.e. their placements. This is published primarily in the statistical first release ‘Children looked after by local authorities in England, including adoption’.1

  1. In 2011, Ofsted collected child-level data from local authorities on their commissioned services, that is services provided by private and voluntary organisations, for children looked after. This was an invaluable source of data and was used to inform the Children’s Services Assessments, inspection, and national debate on commissioning for children looked after. Ofsted published a tool containing this information on 19 January 2012.2

  1. In 2013, Ofsted collected data on all children looked after as at 31 March, including those placed in both commissioned and local authority services. This is a report of the findings from that collection.

  1. This collection requested, for the most part, data that had already been collated and validated by local authorities as part of the process of submitting their SSDA903 returns to the DfE. Ofsted then matched these data to Ofsted’s inspection judgement data as at 31 March 2013. The resulting matching enables local authorities to use the data to inform discussion around commissioning arrangements for children looked after.

  1. The data presented is a snapshot of children looked after and their placements on a particular day and is therefore an historical view. It is intended as a broad insight into the types of placements in which children looked after live and where they are living. It is not intended to be a commentary on local authority decision-making; we are not making any judgements on local authority performance.

  1. The data presented in this publication is, at times, different to that provided by the DfE in their national statistics for children looked after, including adoption. The reasons for this are explored further below.

  1. The data are currently being used to inform the latest framework for the inspection of services for “Children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers”, which began in November 2013.

  1. This release is experimental because the statistics do not yet meet the rigorous quality standards of National Statistics. As is further discussed, below, there are issues of data quality, particularly around placement type, that require some further work. Ofsted have tried to resolve them as best we can. Although there is confidence in much of the high level identification of placement type, further work is needed on the identification of all the correct providers. The process of collecting these data, and of the quality assurance work undertaken, will inform better data collection by both Ofsted and DfE in the future.

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