Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

More child services 'inadequate'

Baby P
Baby P died shortly before Ofsted gave Haringey a clean bill of health

The number of children's services in England deemed inadequate at keeping children safe has doubled in one year.

Ofsted, which came under fire over the death of Baby P, has published its annual assessments of 147 councils.

Last year, four councils were found to be inadequate, but this year that rose to eight. Among them was Haringey, north London, where Baby P died.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said government "intervention experts" would work urgently with struggling councils.

As well as Haringey, child protection was rated inadequate at Birmingham, Doncaster, Essex, Reading, Surrey, West Sussex and Wokingham councils.

Ofsted's data also shows that the number of councils found to be inadequate in all children's services overall has also risen from none last year to four this year.

Those councils were Doncaster, Haringey, Milton Keynes and Surrey.

The number of councils which provide good or outstanding children's services has also fallen from 78% to 73%.

'Most vulnerable'

In a statement, Ofsted said the increase in inadequate ratings was "a cause for concern".

Doncaster Council
Haringey Council
Milton Keynes Council
Surrey County Council

Chief inspector Christine Gilbert said although there had been "significant achievements", she was concerned that some services remained inadequate.

She said: "Where this has been found, we have clearly identified where improvements are needed.

"We would expect those working in children's services to address these issues as an urgent priority with support from their local government office.

"We will be inspecting next year to ensure they make good progress."

Three councils were rated outstanding for all children's services - Gateshead, Kensington and Chelsea, and York.

Mr Balls said that in all nine of the authorities judged to be inadequate the government had either already intervened or would now do so now.

"Following initial discussions we will then decide what further action or support is required," he said.

"In all cases we will work with the authorities concerned - and with the Local Government Association - to put in place improvement support or intervention as quickly as possible."


'Misleading' data

Earlier this month, MPs called for Ofsted to review its procedures, after it emerged that inspectors had made "favourable" inspections of Haringey Council shortly after Baby P died.

He suffered months of abuse while on the council's child protection register.

A more thorough inspection this year revealed gross inadequacies in Haringey Council's child protection service.

During a question session with MPs, Ms Gilbert admitted the inspection in 2007 was misleading because, she argued, her inspectors had been misled by Haringey's data.

Ofsted said it would introduce a new inspection system from next year.

The so-called Comprehensive Area Assessment promises to "ensure a stronger focus on front-line practice, including annual unannounced inspection visits in every local authority".

Christine Gilbert, Ofsted
Christine Gilbert appeared before the select committee last week

But despite these assurances, the Commons Children, Schools and Families Select Committee is still planning to investigate the inspectorate.

Chairman Barry Sheerman accused Ms Gilbert of being "complacent" and rejecting "out of hand" the committee's suggestions.

"I put it to herů. why didn't she embed, immediately, an inspector in each of them so that there was actually a real human being there, looking people in the eye, going out with young social workers on their difficult visits," he said.

Mr Sheerman said inspectors were trying to juggle responsibility for monitoring schools, nurseries and child protection.

"I think very often they are taking the kind of inspection system that is probably alright, but not wonderful, for schools across to children's services and it doesn't work," he added.

'Being rectified'

Lorna Reith, cabinet member for children and young people at Haringey, said significant changes would be needed "to restore confidence in child protection".

They need better training and support to manage the high levels of stress
Helga Pile, Unison

"Those changes have already begun. They are being driven by new political and managerial leadership," she said.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said "areas of weakness" were being "rectified".

West Sussex County Council also said "significant improvements" had been made since Ofsted carried out its assessment.

Helga Pile, from public sector union Unison, said its members working in social care were "struggling with huge caseloads, high turnover rates of staff and massive amount of paperwork".

"They also need better training and support to manage the high levels of stress associated with making tough decisions on the safety of children day in, day out," she said.

Ofsted inspected 150 councils, but three are still contesting their grades.


English local authorities' performance

Local authority 2007 2008
Barking and Dagenham Good Good
Barnet Good Good
Barnsley Good Good
Bath and NE Somerset Good Good
Bedfordshire Good Outstanding
Bexley Good Outstanding
Birmingham Adequate Inadequate
Blackburn with Darwen Good Good
Blackpool Good Good
Bolton Good Outstanding
Bournemouth Good Good
Bracknell Forest Good Good
Bradford Good Good
Brent Good Adequate
Brighton and Hove Good Good
Bristol Adequate Adequate
Bromley Adequate Good
Buckinghamshire Adequate Good
Bury Good Adequate
Calderdale Good Adequate
Cambridgeshire Adequate Adequate
Camden Good Outstanding
Cheshire Good Adequate
Cornwall Adequate Adequate
Corporation of London Outstanding Good
Coventry Adequate Adequate
Croydon Good Good
Cumbria Good Good
Darlington Good Good
Derby Good Good
Derbyshire Good Good
Devon Adequate Good
Doncaster Adequate Inadequate
Dorset Adequate Good
Dudley Good Good
Durham Good Good
Ealing Good Good
East Riding of Yorkshire Good Good
East Sussex Good Outstanding
Enfield Good Outstanding
Essex Adequate Inadequate
Gateshead Outstanding Outstanding
Gloucestershire Adequate Adequate
Greenwich Good Good
Hackney Adequate Good
Halton Outstanding Outstanding
Hammersmith and Fulham Adequate Good
Hampshire Good Good
Haringey Good Inadequate
Harrow Adequate Good
Hartlepool Good Good
Havering Good Good
Herefordshire Adequate Adequate
Hertfordshire Inadequate Adequate
Hillingdon Good Outstanding
Hounslow Good Good
Isle of Wight Adequate Adequate
Isles Of Scilly Inadequate Adequate
Islington Good Good
Kensington and Chelsea Outstanding Outstanding
Kent Good Good
Kingston Upon Hull Good No data
Kingston-Upon-Thames Outstanding Outstanding
Kirklees Good Good
Knowsley Adequate Good
Lambeth Good Good
Lancashire Good Adequate
Leeds Adequate Adequate
Leicester City Good Good
Leicestershire Good Good
Lewisham Adequate Good
Lincolnshire Good Outstanding
Liverpool Good Good
Luton Good Good
Manchester Adequate Adequate
Medway Adequate Adequate
Merton Good Good
Middlesbrough Good Adequate
Milton Keynes Adequate Adequate
Newcastle Upon Tyne Adequate Adequate
Newham Good Good
Norfolk Good Good
North East Lincolnshire Good Good
North Lincolnshire Good Good
North Somerset Good Good
North Tyneside Good Good
North Yorkshire Good Good
Northamptonshire Good Adequate
Northumberland Good Outstanding
Nottingham Adequate Adequate
Nottinghamshire Adequate Good
Oldham Adequate Good
Oxfordshire Adequate Adequate
Peterborough Inadequate Adequate
Plymouth Adequate Good
Poole Good Good
Portsmouth Good No data
Reading Good Inadequate
Redbridge Good Good
Redcar and Cleveland Good Good
Richmond-Upon-Thames Outstanding Outstanding
Rochdale Good Good
Rotherham Good Adequate
Rutland Good Good
Salford Inadequate Adequate
Sandwell Adequate Adequate
Sefton Good Adequate
Sheffield Good Good
Shropshire Outstanding Good
Slough Good Good
Solihull Good Good
Somerset Good Good
South Gloucestershire Good Adequate
South Tyneside Good Adequate
Southampton Adequate Adequate
Southend-On-Sea Adequate Adequate
Southwark Good Good
St Helens Good Good
Staffordshire Good Good
Stockport Good Outstanding
Stockton on Tees Outstanding Good
Stoke-on-Trent Inadequate Adequate
Suffolk Good Good
Sunderland Adequate Good
Surrey Adequate Inadequate
Sutton Good Good
Swindon Adequate Good
Tameside Good Adequate
Telford and Wrekin Good No data
Thurrock Adequate Adequate
Torbay Adequate Adequate
Tower Hamlets Outstanding Good
Trafford Good Good
Wakefield Adequate Good
Walsall Good Good
Waltham Forest Good Good
Wandsworth Outstanding Outstanding
Warrington Good Good
Warwickshire Good Good
West Berkshire Good Good
West Sussex Adequate Inadequate
Westminster Good Good
Wigan Adequate Good
Wiltshire Good Adequate
Windsor and Maidenhead Good Good
Wirral Adequate Adequate
Wokingham Adequate Inadequate
Wolverhampton Adequate Adequate
Worcestershire Outstanding Good
York Outstanding Outstanding

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