Our statement on the Ofsted inspection
After our latest Ofsted inspection, Ofsted have published their Single Inspection Framework report after visiting us in September and October 2016.
Our four-week Ofsted inspection focused on the local services for children in need of help and protection, looked after children, and care leavers. Ofsted also inspected the independent Safeguarding Children Board.
The report highlights that concerns about standard of practice in Kirklees were found during an internal review in 2015. Further checks identified longstanding weaknesses, which then led on to a range of work to begin improving services.
Our Assistant Director of Family Support and Child Protection and Director of Children and Young People both retired by March 2016, as planned for several months. Our new Assistant Director and Director are now leading the improvement work and, as noted by Ofsted, have made “significant changes”.
Ofsted’s report has said:
“Senior managers are aware of the inadequacies and have implemented an improvement plan.”, and that we have a,” Clear, long-term vision of services for children and families.”
However, it also points out that many of the recent developments have not had enough time to make a major impact and are:
“Not yet making a sufficient difference to children’s experiences.”
Ofsted have given an overall assessment of inadequate. Within this judgement, ‘services for children who need help and protection’, ‘services for children looked after and achieving permanence’ and ‘leadership, management and governance’ are judged as inadequate. The effectiveness of our independent Safeguarding Children Board is also deemed inadequate.
The report published by Ofsted also judged further – ‘adoption performance’ and the ‘experience and progress of care leavers’ are assessed as requiring improvement in order to be good.
Sarah Callaghan took over as Director for Children and Young People in April 2016, said:
“We have been clear for several months that serious issues needed to be addressed. This was discussed at Cabinet in May when we reported on weaknesses in practice, the actions being taken, and our priorities for putting things right. The inspection has confirmed our own view that we’re on an an improvement journey but still with a long way to go.
We were fully aware of the issues raised by Ofsted and were already taking urgent steps to improve support for children and families. There is new management in place and we are very realistic about the current position. We are remodelling the whole service and this will take considerable time.
We have already seen a huge amount of change – in our working practices, our management oversight and in ensuring the voice of the child is central to everything we do – with the goal of removing poor practice and achieving consistently high standards.
We knew that, in many cases, it would be too early for Ofsted to see the impacts. However, we are very confident that the benefits of these changes will soon be evident. Our staff are hugely committed to this work and they share the view that it’s critical to make improvements as quickly as possible.
Poor standards are not acceptable. The safety and welfare of children and young people is incredibly important to us all.”
Cllr Erin Hill is Cabinet member for Family Support and Child Protection, she said:
“The judgement of inadequate is disappointing, but we are committed to making the necessary changes and I am proud of what our staff have achieved so far.
We have been aware of issues in children’s services since last year, when I presented a public report on what action we were taking. Ofsted have acknowledged that we know what needs to be done, and have praised the commitment of our staff and of all political parties in Kirklees.
We are already seeing real benefits to young people, and some of this is mentioned in the final Ofsted report.
I understand that this is concerning for all residents of Kirklees. Keeping children safe, and helping them lead healthy and happy lives, is a fundamental priority for this administration and I will make sure that the recommendations Ofsted made are taken into account.
There are immediate issues we need to address, but we are already dramatically changing the culture of children’s services in Kirklees. We have introduced more checks and balances, from senior managers but also from all political parties and councillors. We have invited external experts to advise and challenge us.
We should never be complacent about children’s services, and it is right that Ofsted has highlighted work that needs to be done. It is unacceptable for any children to be let down by services designed to help them, and we will do what it takes to give them the care they deserve.”
Adrian Lythgo, Chief Executive of Kirklees Council said:
“Bringing services up to the right standard for children and families is our number one priority. We want all children to be safe and to have the best start in life, helping them fulfil their potential.
The report recognises that our new management team know these services well, have made major improvements and are working with a clear, long-term vision.
All local agencies who are responsible for safeguarding children are working together closely. Our shared commitment is to protect children and meet their needs in the best possible way.”
Cllr David Sheard, Leader of Kirklees Council, said:
“The report does highlight some positives, including strong support for adopted children, a good response to child sexual exploitation and the fact that last year’s GCSE outcomes for looked after children were almost double the national average.
At the same time, we acknowledge all of Ofsted’s comments and we know we must continue working at pace to raise local standards.
It’s pleasing that Ofsted have praised Cllr Hill, who has done an excellent job since becoming portfolio holder last year. She is providing a high level of rigour and support.
But we are not complacent in any way. We know the scale of the challenge and we are doing everything possible to make a real and positive difference in young people’s lives. We all want the very best for local children.”