Ofsted Annual Report 2017/18

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said:

On social care

“We should be, largely, encouraged by many of the findings in this report; there have been continued improvements in the quality and overall effectiveness of children’s services across the country and we have high hopes that sector-led improvement developments underway will support further progress in this area. However, we cannot be complacent where the safety and future life chances of children and young people are concerned.

“A focus on ‘getting the basics right’ underpins much of the good progress being made by local authorities but this is getting harder to achieve as need has increased but budgets have not. The report acknowledges that child protection activity has been prioritised but this has been at the expense of vital early help services that prevent children and families from reaching crisis point. Ofsted rightly states that this is a false economy and will result in huge human, and financial costs in the future. Delivering a minimised service is not in the best interest of our children, families or communities. The government’s favoured approach of ad-hoc, time limited pots of funding for some local authorities and not others falls short of the sustainable investment we need to ensure children and families can access high quality, safe services at the earliest opportunity.”

On education

“Every child and young person should have access to good quality education including a broad curriculum to help them flourish and realise their ambitions. Many schools are delivering a good standard of education to their pupils, however, a small, but worrying, number are not.

“We share many of the inspectorate’s concerns, from off-rolling, learners attending illegal schools and the need for strengthened legislation in home education to some schools being exempt from inspection. Exclusion is rarely in a child’s best interest and our most vulnerable learners are more likely to be excluded, including those with special educational needs, eligible for free school meals or from some black and ethnic minority backgrounds and children in care. We look forward to the findings of the review of exclusions and urge bold action from government to prevent such practices.”

On services for children with SEND

“We recognise that in some areas services for children with special educational needs and disabilities are not yet good enough. We also understand parents’ frustrations that many local authorities are having to scale back on some services that support children with special educational needs and disabilities because there is simply not enough money in the system to meet the level of need and complexity we are seeing. The Children and Families Act (2014) rightly extended support for children and young people with SEND from birth to age 25, however, the funding provided by central government to implement these reforms is insufficient to meet the needs of this extended cohort of learners. These children deserve the best from us; local authorities, schools and parents/carers must work together to highlight the pressures facing budgets and to call on government for the appropriate, long term funding of these services to ensure no child is left behind.”

On the secure estate

“In the secure estate, beyond secure children’s homes which are largely run by local authorities, Ofsted expressed significant concerns around poor standards in some secure training centres. Conditions in some centres were described as ‘unsafe’ and ‘squalid’. Such standards would be unacceptable in any other setting for children and young people and should be here too.”

ENDS

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.



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