Workforce, Pensions and Training

23.07.19

Tower Hamlets' children’s services achieves ‘remarkable turnaround’ in Ofsted review

Tower Hamlets Council’s children’s service has jumped two grades and achieved a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted after inspectors found a “transformed culture” and “remarkable progress.”

In 2017, the children’s services were blasted by Ofsted for not meeting basic social work standards and were rated ‘inadequate’, but two years later the regulator said the council had achieved a “remarkable turnaround.”

Ofsted said senior leaders at the council have “focused relentlessly on improving practice across all services, changing culture and tackling previous poor performance.”

The inspectors said this had made “a significant and discernible difference,” and praised specifically the work done by the corporate director for children and culture at the council, Debbie Jones, who used to be the Ofsted’s regional director London for social care.

Children in need of help or protection were found to be looked after well, which is a major improvement on the last review when the service was criticised for 25 cases of failing to properly investigate children’s needs.

READ MORE: Government removes intervention in Tower Hamlets LBC

One of the other complaints from 2017 was that half the workforce came from agencies, but this has now been stabilised thanks to a focus on new; y-qualified social workers, and the turnover there has also dropped from 33% to 9% in less than a year.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said he was “delighted” with the Ofsted report, and that whilst they had inherited significant problems, “we have focused the council on transforming the way that we support vulnerable young people.”

“It was really important that we owned the problems and from the start we set out to achieve a good rating. It has been extremely challenging to achieve this but children in Tower Hamlets deserved nothing less.”

READ MORE: Statutory directions lifted as council’s children’s services ‘vastly improved’

Debbie Jones commented: “Two years ago we were rated inadequate because children and families were not getting the support they needed.

“We took a root and branch approach to changing that and it has taken a huge amount of hard graft, commitment and determination.

“We will not be complacent after our good rating. In fact, this is another step on our road to outstanding.”

Tower Hamlets Council said the children’s services are now at the forefront in developing ways to improve services and its workforce, and in December it launched a Social Work Academy to help tackle a shortage of social workers.

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