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

Council to spend £4m investigating senior officers who gave themselves 20% wage rise during pay freeze

14/12/2018Council to spend £4m investigating senior officers who gave themselves 20% wage rise during pay freeze

A council has agreed to allocate nearly an extra £250,000 to an investigation looking into alleged pay rises given to senior officers. ... more >
Government commissioner allows Wakefield Council to retain full control of services

14/12/2018Government commissioner allows Wakefield Council to retain full control of services

Almost four months after Ofsted inspectors identified “serious and widespread failures” across Wakefield’s children’s ser... more >
Fife Council scraps controversial P1 assessments despite harsh government opposition

14/12/2018Fife Council scraps controversial P1 assessments despite harsh government opposition

Fife Council has announced that it will be scrapping the controversial standardised P1 assessments at the end of the current academic year. ... 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 >
Local government finance settlement: short-term needs met with 2.4% boost

13/12/2018Local government finance settlement: short-term needs met with 2.4% boost

The annual local government finance settlement shows that the government has recognised short-term pressures facing local government — but it is yet to solve medium to long-term financial d... more >
Local government finance settlement delayed by Brexit

05/12/2018Local government finance settlement delayed by Brexit

The announcement of the local government funding settlement has been delayed as Parliament looks to grapple with Brexit. In a statement released this afternoon, communities secretary Ja... more >

the raven's daily blog

Blog: 5 minutes with Gary Wallis-Clarke, member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills Group

12/12/2018Blog: 5 minutes with Gary Wallis-Clarke, member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills Group

Ahead of the upcoming networking extravaganza EvoNorth, we caught up with Gary Wallis-Clarke, a member of the Northern Powerhouse Education and Skills group, executive headteacher at West Jesmond Primary school, and its national leader of education. In our interview, Gary reveals what the Northern Powerhouse means to him and explains... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

The digital buying community is live

12/11/2018The digital buying community is live

Many of the requirements from buyers posted on the Digital Marketplace were either non-compliant or poorly worded, which resulted in challenges f... more >
A force to be reckoned with

12/11/2018A force to be reckoned with

The South Bank plan, which refers to a number of investments and proposed activities across a massive plot of land south of the River Aire, is on... more >
Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

12/11/2018Less for less: the risk of 'core offers'

As councils across England struggle with their finances in the face of massive cuts from central government, Simon Edwards, director of the Count... more >
A two-speed England

05/11/2018A two-speed England

Central government needs to change its approach to local transport planning and investment, including by consolidating funding and maximising dev... more >

interviews

New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >
Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

26/09/2018Cllr Cutts on dealing with children’s services pressures: ‘I can’t magic money out of the air’

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has outlined her priorities for dealing with soaring demand of children’s services and social ... more >
Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

05/09/2018Nottinghamshire considers unitary shake-up proposals in a bid to balance books

Nottinghamshire County Council is considering proposals to scrap its current two-tier structure for a new unitary system in order to save on... more >

public sector focus

View all News