Croydon children's services raised to 'good' by Ofsted

Fiona Simpson
Monday, March 16, 2020

A council’s children’s services previously rated “inadequate” by Ofsted has been raised to “good” in less than three years.

Croydon Council's children's services has been rated as "good" by Ofsted. Picture: Your Croydon
Croydon Council's children's services has been rated as "good" by Ofsted. Picture: Your Croydon

Services at Croydon Council have “improved dramatically” since its last inspection in 2017, Ofsted’s latest report, following a two-week inspection in February, states.

Inspectors praised the council’s services for children in need of help and protection and said senior leaders have “created an environment in which staff feel valued and enjoy working in the borough”.

A link between the council’s early help services and social workers in Croydon is “well understood, with clearly defined step-up and step-down arrangements,” the Ofsted report states, praising the council’s £6m investment in its new youth work building, Legacy Youth Zone.

Director of children’s services Rob Henderson said the council’s investment in the youth zone was necessary to combat violent crime, county lines and protect vulnerable children at risk of child criminal exploitation.

This was highlighted in the report with inspectors noting: “The strengthened arrangements to identify and respond to young people at risk of exploitation, including sexual exploitation, are ensuring increasingly swift and well-targeted responses to reduce risk.”

The report also highlights a “transformation” of the council’s assessment teams.

“The work of the assessment teams has been transformed by a whole-system review, additional capacity, and effective management oversight at all levels,” it states.

“Risk is well understood and clearly identified, and proportionate responses demonstrate a thoughtful and sensitive consideration of children’s needs and vulnerabilities,” it adds.

However, director of children’s services Rob Henderson said the council was “not where we need to be” after Ofsted said the council’s work with looked-after children and children leaving care “required improvement to be good”.

The report states that while services for children in care have improved since the inspection in 2017, “the effectiveness of this work is undermined by the high turnover of staff and the frequent changes of social workers for children in care”.

However, the report adds: “Senior managers have recently restructured and increased capacity in the commissioning and placement services to improve processes. Managers are focused on increasing the range of good-quality placement arrangements to meet individual children’s and care leavers’ needs.”

Henderson said staff morale had “significantly improved” since 2017 and added that “Croydon is now a place people want to work”.

He highlighted improvements in recruitment and retention of “great-quality social workers” and added that the borough now runs a social work academy for council staff to qualify as social workers.

However, Henderson vowed to further improve practises for the borough’s most vulnerable children saying: “This is an ongoing journey, we are determined to get there, we are not there yet.

“We owe it to our children and young people, looked-after and leaving care, not to pretend they are getting the care they deserve.”

Meanwhile, Harrow Council in north London has also been rated as “good” by Ofsted, the same result as in its 2017 inspection.

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