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15.12.15

LGA questions effectiveness of inspection system for children’s services

There must be a collective effort to ensure the inspection system of children’s services helps drive improvement rather than simply “exacerbating existing problems”, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Responding to the government’s announcement on children’s services intervention, which could see failing services taken over by high-performing authorities, experts or charities, the LGA said that councils, government and Ofsted must work together to ensure the inspection system works effectively. 

Cllr Roy Perry, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People’s Board, said: “A recent study from independent researchers Impower highlighted the impact an inadequate Ofsted inspection can have on a council, which can often see areas stuck in a vicious circle of staffing shortages combined with rapidly increasing demand.” 

He added that protecting children is the “most important” thing a council does and failure of leadership and performance in children’s services will not be tolerated. 

Cllr Perry, who is also leader of Hampshire County Council, said that where change is needed, “learning from within the sector from the best councils is paramount”.  

“If extra external assistance is required, it must only be for a period of time to help bring a council back on its feet,” he said. “It is right that the best performing councils are able to support those struggling. However, it is important that capacity and resources are fully provided as transforming a hugely complex child protection system takes time and additional funding.” 

It was also noted that evidence suggests that transforming services often takes longer than six months and a flexible approach is required. 

Recently, Alison O’Sullivan, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), told PSE that Ofsted’s use of single-word judgements for rating council-run children’s services is “inappropriate” and “burdensome”.

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