Inspectors find ‘significant deterioration’ in children’s services

Newham Council's children's services have been branded inadequate by Ofsted. Picture: Ken Mears

Newham Council's children's services have been branded inadequate by Ofsted. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Newham Council’s children’s services have seen a “significant deterioration” over the past five years.

A report by education watchdog Ofsted, released today (Monday), found that there was a “distinct lack of ambition for children” and that “leaders are failing in their duties to children in care and care leavers”.

The council was branded inadequate overall - the lowest possible rating - as well as in two of the three assessment areas. The third area was judged as requiring improvement.

Inspectors who assessed the council’s services last month found that the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers were not good, with young people leaving care receiving a poor service.

The report states: “The leaving care service does not become involved with children in care early enough, resulting in poor preparation and planning. The service is not child centred in the way it is set up.”

Inspectors also found that “decisions for children to come into care are not always based on up-to-date assessments or made in response to escalating risk”, although assessments and plans were generally found to be up to date.

The impact on leaders on social work practice with children and families, the second area to be rated inadequate, found that a “failure of leadership has resulted in serious failures in practice”.

Most Read

The report said that “leaders have neglected their duties” and that there was little evidence that feedback from children and families was listened to.

It also said that “all areas for improvement from the previous inspection in 2014 still require attention” - highlighting accuracy of recording and quality of management oversight.

In the area deemed to require improvement - the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection - inspectors did praise appropriate safeguarding and timely action by social workers.

However, they found that services for older children are under-developed and that thresholds for the use of services were inconsistently applied.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: “It’s clear that services for children and young people in Newham have not been good enough, and I apologise unreservedly to our young people and their families for the unacceptable failings.

“We have made improvements during my first 10 months as mayor, and my budget last month saw the council agree to the greatest investment in services for Newham’s children and young people in a generation.

“We will also be implementing an immediate action plan to address other issues highlighted by Ofsted, and we are determined to work in partnership with children and young people to ensure that their needs and priorities are at the heart of our improvements.”