Salford’s Childrens Services reaches rock-bottom

I’ve just finished reading the latest Ofsted report on Salford’s Childrens Services and it doesn’t make pleasant reading. Regular viewers of my blog (or even those willing to try a casual search here for either ofsted or childrens services), will know that I’ve written often about this subject, none of it flattering to Salford Council.

As the last few years have gone by, Salfords Childrens Services has fallen from good, to adequate, inadequate and now poor (the lowest possible rating). We are at rock-bottom. Whilst it’s not all doom and gloom in the Ofsted report (for example it points out that the majority of our secondary schools are good or better at helping young people develop the knowledge and skills necessary to gain a job, that achievement of three to five year-olds has been above the average[s] for similar areas, the large majority of schools have good or better behaviour and more children and young people taking part in physical activities and sport), the ‘poor’ areas make difficult reading.

The Manchester Evening News reports that this year’s rating is worse than 2009, when it was rated ‘adequate’. But in fact, my blog readers may remember in June I wrote here about a scathing report from Ofsted which branded safeguarding services ‘inadequate’ for the second time in four years. This time, Inspectors said the council had still not taken ‘sufficiently robust action’ to improve its safeguarding services.  Safeguarding services monitor and provide support for children living in the community and deemed to be at risk from neglect or abuse.

In the June report, Ofsted found child-protection concerns were not properly identified or responded to quickly ‘leaving some children at potential risk’.  Caseloads of some social workers in the court and child protection team were too high.

And, as the Evening News reports, since August the department has been subject to a notice ordering it to improve – the government says it could take over running the department if there isn’t significant improvement by next month. I urged the government to step in and take control in my last blog post in June and today I repeat that call again.

Salford Council have had enough time to improve and have failed to do so.

Comments

  1. Steve Middleton December 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    You raise some good points Aled (in particular where you mention that too few of our schools teach a foreign language) but I firmly believe that Children’s Services has had ample time to familiarise itself with the Ofsted “rules” and if other councils can manage to attain at least an “adequate” rating throughout all their department’s services I see no good reason why Salford can’t either.

    The various Ofsted reports have proven invaluable, in that while pointing out what Salford does well (as I highlighted in my original blog post above) it also points out where the failings are or where we should “improve”. In some cases, the reports have even stated how those areas could be improved. Have we taken the advice? No.

    The same areas where we’ve failed before (safeguarding) are where we’ve failed again – despite being told how to fix this by Ofsted in their previous reports.

    I too wish Nick Page well. I really, really hope he achieves his aims and I cannot fault his commitment, after all, as he stated in his Manchester Evening News/Salford Advertiser interview “his job is on the line.”

  2. Aled December 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Steve

    I don’t think this is entirely fair. Children’s Services is one of those dreadful conglomerates put together with the very best of intentions that will struggle to perform to the required standards in most urban situations especially those with significant levels of deprivation.

    Ofsted have this rule (I forget what they call it) that condemns you to failure if just one aspect is considered inadequate.

    Safeguarding is one of them and whilst the vast majority of the Dept is judged to be adequate or good the Dept fails the inspection. I’m not saying that safeguarding is not important but I would like to suggest that the aim of making our world totally safe is just not realistic or achievable.

    Most of the report makes good reading but the reality is that it shouldn’t. For example very few of our Secondary Schools give their pupils the opportunity to learn a foreign language – an essential skill in our global village. Furthermore many of our schools adjust their curriculum to maximize their league table status rather than stretch their pupils and give them yje rounded education they deserve. Neither of these are considered to be negatives by Ofsted but I believe they should be.

    I have confidence that our new Director will produce the goods but I wish he would involve the schools in his plans rather assume that each school will become an Academy as Mr Gove hopes.

Comments are closed.