The majority of children’s services in this country are not good enough, Ofsted has declared.
The watchdog published its third annual report on children’s social care in England this week. According to their figures, three out of every four local authorities received a rating lower than ‘good’ in the most recent round of inspections. Of these, one in every four was rated ‘inadequate’. This represents a total of 21 authorities throughout the country and a five per cent increase from the previous round. Only 23 were rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
The quality of services was not determined by “lesser or greater funding; it’s about how local authorities use their funding”, the report reads. In fact, a number of the “highest spending local authorities were also the weakest” in terms of quality.
Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that these failings were “simply unacceptable”. There are too many children in care who are not receiving adequate services and “in the most serious cases, they are being completely failed”, he claimed.
There are around 320,000 children in England who are categorised as “in need” at any given time, he explained. Such children, “whose miserable young lives are so often blighted as a result of domestic violence and the abuse of drugs or alcohol by adults in the home” worried him the most.
Ofsted’s inspections had identified “serious weaknesses” in local authorities’ ability to identify and assess the needs of children in these circumstances. The watchdog found “systemic failure on a shocking scale” in areas like Sunderland, Sir Michael claimed, where inspectors were “reduced literally to tears by the catastrophically chaotic state of the provision they … found”.
Sir Michael called social work “a noble calling” but said that “we do the profession no favours if we ignore its failings or try to pretend that provision is better than it actually is”.
Read Ofsted’s report here.