Children’s Services, Ofsted and Failings

Cornwall Councils Children’s Service has recently undergone an inspection by Ofsted. The last time this happened (2009) the report post that inspection was very bad as it highlighted many failings in this service. As a result of that inspection and report, this service was subject to Government intervention by means of an Improvement Board. With the Chairman of that board appointed by Government.

The Council was told it must improve or the consequences would be dire and far reaching. The Director at the time fell on his sword and resigned. Other staff left, or new staff were brought in to improve this service. This mammoth task had to be completed as a priority as children’s wellbeing and in some cases lives were being put at risk by these failings.

Cornwall has approximately 117,000 children and young people up to the age of 19 years. This is approximately 22% of the total population in the county.

It was then only a matter of time before Ofsted returned to see what improvements had been made. From my experience Ofsted pull no punches and will look at every detail. They will always find something, the issue is, how bad this something would be.

That something they found was bad, not as bad as it could be, as areas had and were improving. The problem was then and still is at senior manager level (as identified in the report in 2009 and 2011). A quote from the report is as follows:

“The previous inspection also found that management support for staff was inconsistent in ensuring that policies, procedures and guidance are followed. Additionally, managers did not provide sufficiently effective challenge about the quality of child protection and child in need plans. This remains the case, despite significant increases in the number of social workers and management capacity, and the structural reorganisation in children’s social care services”.

Not everything in the report is all doom and gloom as some areas have improved to adequate. In other areas there is even the odd good. The problem is that overall we are still failing the children of Cornwall. This alone is a massive failing.

I am not sure what political fallout there will be, or if anyone falls (or pushed!) on to their sword, but I am sure there will be a few nervous people sweating for a few weeks if not months post this report.

To read this report in full click HERE as you will then understand the scale of work that needs to be undertaken to make this service function correctly.

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