The children’s services in Slough have been rated “inadequate” by Ofsted despite some improvements.
Inspectors found that too many children had been “left too long in situations of risk or where their needs have not been met” and that “too many cases were seen that had serious weaknesses”.
Despite the overall rating inspectors said that the quality of services was improving. Under the new leadership “some important areas of poor practice are being tackled and children are already safer” they found, adding that the “pace of improvement has accelerated”.
Speaking to Community Care, Chief Executive Nicola Clemo claimed the inspection had been “premature” as it came just seven weeks after Slough Children’s Services Trust had taken over. However, she added that it could amount to “the best team-building exercise that you can do because everybody has to pull together”. The Trust has to “do more to promote what it is doing and how it is working”, she said.
The inspection followed an initial inadequate rating in early 2014. The decision to privatise was taken five months later and the Trust took control 15 months after that. This occurred as a part of the government’s plans to privatise children’s services across the country which they claim will save money and improve standards.
The process has already begun across England. Doncaster was the first local authority in the country to privatise their children’s services and in December, Northamptonshire County Council announced plans to transfer theirs to an independent organisation. The council claimed that the move could save as much as £9 million.