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Ofsted annual report 2016/17 - Comment

Responding to Ofsted’s annual report Alison Michalska, ADCS President, said:

On social care

“Today’s report paints a largely positive picture of continuous improvement across children’s services departments. We are pleased to see this overall improvement and the sterling efforts of dedicated staff up and down the country recognised, despite the challenges of rising demand and reducing resources. Above all else this can only be a good thing for children. All directors of children’s services, whether their services have been judged to be outstanding or inadequate, are deeply committed to improving outcomes for children in their local area, striving individually and collectively to drive improvement. It is difficult to summarise the breadth of services provided for children and families in a single grade and this report helpfully recognises the need to look beyond headline judgements. Graded judgments can, and do, hide a multitude of strengths and weaknesses, and offer no certainty that two local authorities with the same judgments are providing the same quality of service and achieving the same outcomes for children in their area.

“The report finds that outcomes in many local authorities have improved as a result of them maintaining a focus on ‘getting the ‘basics right’. Whilst all local authorities are committed to this endeavour it is increasingly difficult to achieve given the LGA estimate children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. This is likely to grow if left unaddressed and could reverse much of the good progress being made to date.”

On education

“Every child and young person should have access to a good quality education including a broad curriculum to help them flourish and realise their ambitions in life. We are pleased to see that many schools are delivering a good standard of education for children and young people, however that a small number of schools are not is concerning.

“Some of the concerns raised in this report around off-rolling and informal exclusions in particular are shared by ADCS. This practice is unacceptable and not in children’s best interests. Poor behaviour can signify wider problems with a child’s education or home life that are preventing them from learning. Exclusions can be disruptive for children and young people and can set them up for a lifetime of disadvantage. Supporting children and young people wherever possible to stay in the mainstream system is at the heart of the inclusion agenda. Currently, Ofsted’s framework for inspecting schools focuses on performance over the progress made by pupils over time. This does nothing to promote inclusivity across the school system which is what our most vulnerable students including children in care and children with special educational needs and disabilities both need and deserve.

“The standard of education in some secure training centres is described by HMCI as ‘extremely poor’. Children who are in conflict with the law should be treated as children first and foremost. Their behaviours can mask underlying vulnerabilities and trauma. To deprive them of their right to a good standard of education does nothing to promote their mental health and wellbeing, the development of new skills or open the door to opportunities such as steady employment. This is key to their successful rehabilitation and reintegration into society.”


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