“Only a quarter of councils rated 'good' in Ofsted inspections”

By Derren Hayes

| 13 August 2015

Three-quarters of English children's services departments assessed under Ofsted's single inspection framework (SIF) have been given the two lowest ratings, latest data reveals.

Of the 59 local authority children’s social care services inspected by Ofsted between November 2013, when the SIF was introduced, and 30 June 2015, 23.7 per cent (14) were graded “inadequate” and 52.5 per cent (31) were graded “requires improvement”.

Figures included in children's social care data, published today, show that a further 14 children’s services departments were rated “good” under the inspectorate's four-level grading framework. No authority's services were deemed “outstanding”, the highest rating.

Earlier this year, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services published analysis showing that of the 41 children’s services departments to be assessed using the SIF up to January 2015, 44 per cent had seen their rating fall.

Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s chief operating officer, said: “We are seeing a children’s services sector in transition, with some, but not yet enough, local authorities demonstrating they are working in a more child-centred way.
“The 14 local authorities judged to be good have shown they are putting the outcomes of children at the heart of their decision-making and practice.

"These areas demonstrate what can be done, and we urge other authorities to learn from their example.”

The data shows the area of weakest performance among local authorities is child protection services, with one in five departments being judged inadequate and 34 requires improvement.

Services for looked-after children were deemed to be the strongest area of performance, with a third of local authorities (20) judged good.

Meanwhile, three councils – Hampshire, Leeds and Trafford – were judged outstanding for leadership, management and governance – the only top ratings given across all children’s services measures.

In addition, the data shows there has been a slight decline in standards of children’s homes over the past year. When comparing the most recent inspection of all homes in 2014-15 to their most recent inspection in 2013-14, 23 per cent of homes had seen their rating decline and 19 per cent improve. More than half saw their rating remain the same.

A higher proportion of local authority-run homes (70 per cent) received a good or better judgment than private (62 per cent) and voluntary-run (64 per cent) homes.

Coffey said the fall in standards of children’s homes is a “cause for concern”.

“Ofsted will be closely monitoring the performance of the sector, bolstered by a new inspection framework, which explicitly focuses on the progress and experiences of children and young people,” he added.