Audit, Inspection and Safety

29.01.18

Two authorities blasted for ‘inadequate’ children’s services

Today’s latest round of Ofsted reports has exposed failing children’s services in two separate authorities.

Sandwell MBC has been lambasted by inspectors despite plans from the government to have services for children and young people transferred from the council to a specific trust after serious concerns about quality.

Buckinghamshire County Council has also been labelled ‘inadequate’ in the recent report, after failing to improve on its poor 2014 rating.

Both authorities were criticised for individual failures, with neither of the two scoring above ‘inadequate’ on any of Ofsted’s three categories, although Buckinghamshire achieved a 'good' rating in the adoption performance subcategory.

The regulator initially hit Sandwell with a damning report in 2015 and, although the council seemed to be making improvement, former education secretary Justine Greening felt outside help was needed to bring the organisation up to scratch.

Since then, and with the new trust still preparing to begin its work in April this year, progress has stalled almost completely, with some services actually deteriorating – prompting Ofsted to call out “widespread and serious failures” across the council.

“Most of the recommendations from the Ofsted 2015 inspection have not been fully met and some services have declined in effectiveness,” the report reads. “The pace of change to address service deficits has been too slow. Only in recent months, with the appointment of a new senior management team, has the trajectory of improvement quickened.

“However, the basic elements of good social work practice are not yet in place, for example effective management oversight, a robust response to risk, and timely and thorough assessment and plans.”

Cllr Simon Hackett, cabinet member for children’s services at Sandwell, said the service “isn’t where it needs to be” and registered his disappointment with the rating.

“While it's clear that there is much more work to do, Ofsted also recognised the beginning of change in the service that will make sure Sandwell Children's Trust has the foundations in place to succeed,” he continued.

“The trust is the future of children’s services in Sandwell. It will give us a fresh start and the opportunity to achieve real change. It cannot succeed without the council's full support which I will make sure it receives.”

Sandwell MBC is responsible for around 80,000 children living in the area, with approximately 30% of those living in poverty and 21% entitled to free school meals.

Inspectors made a range of improvement recommendations, including advancing processes for management oversight and decision-making – points which were also put forward during the last inspection.

Services in Buckinghamshire have also had chances to improve, although inspectors found the response to previous reports was “inconsistent and too slow.”

Inspectors did point to the leadership of the county council, suggesting the recent appointment of new directors and managers within children’s services had provided a strong team which was “committed to accelerating the pace of improvements for children.”

However, they also mentioned “serious shortfalls in some parts of the service” and an unsuccessful response to previous criticisms.

Buckinghamshire’s cabinet member for children’s services, Warren Whyte, said: “I am extremely disappointed and concerned with the outcome, and the council fully accepts the findings of the report.

“It is clear that some of our services are still not good enough yet and the pace of improvement in some key areas has been too slow. It is our collective responsibility to make sure that we put this right.

“It is important that we do not lose sight of the strengths inspectors highlight and the improvements we have already delivered, and our continued commitment to improve.”

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Bill for cash-strapped council’s usage of ring-fenced money could be up to £16m

21/05/2018Bill for cash-strapped council’s usage of ring-fenced money could be up to £16m

 A new investigation into the usage of public funds by Northamptonshire County Council could levy the authority with a £16m grant bill... more >
Local authority’s enhanced powers ‘ripe for misuse’ for convicting hundreds of homeless, new figures show

21/05/2018Local authority’s enhanced powers ‘ripe for misuse’ for convicting hundreds of homeless, new figures show

People sleeping rough on Britain’s streets have been fined, given criminal records, or even imprisoned due to enhanced council powers to re... more >
Council calls on Whitehall to fix ‘broken’ funding system, rejects claims of bankruptcy

21/05/2018Council calls on Whitehall to fix ‘broken’ funding system, rejects claims of bankruptcy

A Conservative-controlled council has called on the government to sort out its “broken” funding system, and claimed it was not going ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Dorset merger to go ahead as government rejects 'absurd' challenge

17/05/2018Dorset merger to go ahead as government rejects 'absurd' challenge

A legal challenge submitted by Christchurch Borough Council against the planned merger of Dorset local authorities has been labelled as “an absurd intention to impute to parliament,” ... more >
Liverpool council CEO resigns after failed judicial review request

15/05/2018Liverpool council CEO resigns after failed judicial review request

The chief executive of Liverpool City Council has resigned ahead of the authority's Annual General Meeting, which could have seen him removed from office. Council boss Ged Fitzgerald stepped asi... more >

the raven's daily blog

The complexities of Brexit and the hunt for exceptional data scientists

16/04/2018The complexities of Brexit and the hunt for exceptional data scientists

Christopher Gallagher, public sector – SAS, says it’s imperative that organisations have the most experienced data scientists at hand. The Civil Service is feeling immense Brexit stress. Making the right decisions, analysing the ‘best interests’ of the nation as a whole, as well as discrete segments of the populati... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

The digital journey so far

08/05/2018The digital journey so far

Michael Sage, digital services group manager at Chelmsford City Council, outlines the authority’s journey towards becoming digitally indepe... more >
Equipping the cyber security gatekeepers

08/05/2018Equipping the cyber security gatekeepers

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just around the corner, cyber security is on the lips of the whole public sector – but P... more >
The hydrogen revolution

08/05/2018The hydrogen revolution

PSE’s Josh Mines takes a look at an innovative scheme in Sheffield that will see some of the first hydrogen-fuelled vans begin work in the ... more >
Energy efficiency: not just a matter of more money

30/04/2018Energy efficiency: not just a matter of more money

David Reilly, head of cities & regions at the Carbon Trust, reports on the findings from this year’s Low Carbon Cities Conference. ... more >

interviews

GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

View all News