Newham social services improving but some weaknesses remain says Ofsted

Cllr Sarah Ruiz, cabinet member for education and children social care

Cllr Sarah Ruiz said the improvements were testament to the hard work of the social workers. - Credit: Paul Bennett

Newham social services still has “much to do” to ensure young people are safe, inspectors have said.

Last year a damning Ofsted report found social service leaders  had “neglected their duties” resulting in the council being given an overall Inadequate rating — the lowest possible.

The results of a monitoring visit published this week show the service is improving with new initiatives in place.

However weaknesses remain, according to Inspector Andy Whippey.

Mr Whippey said: “Despite the immense challenges presented by Covid-19, inspectors saw some positive signs of improvement in social work practice.

“There is much still to do to ensure that all children and young people in Newham receive a timely, consistent response to their social care needs, particularly those children who are the subject of child protection or child in need planning, or those children who are at risk of exploitation.

“Some weaknesses from the last inspection remain. However, recent initiatives are starting to show signs of positive impact.

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"Leaders show a very good understanding of the improvements required and, under the leadership of an insightful director of children’s services, have developed relevant plans to address these.”

Inspectors now make regular monitoring visits to see how well improvements are going following the snap inspection in February 2019 when it was found social work practice had “deteriorated significantly” since 2014.

Cllr Sarah Ruiz, cabinet member for education and children social care, said: “We are proud that Ofsted found we stepped up to protect some of Newham’s most vulnerable children and young people in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“The inspectors’ findings are testament to the very hard work of our dedicated team of social workers, who work day in and day out to try to protect and support children across the borough.

“However, we are by no means complacent and we fully accept the areas for further improvement highlighted by Ofsted. We know that the journey to outstanding children’s services is a long one, and we remain committed to a culture of ongoing professional challenge and learning.”