Scrutiny of efforts to tackle child abuse is ‘blinkered’ and failing to recognise the ‘true quality’ of local approaches, town hall chiefs claim.
The Local Government Association (LGA) today blasted Ofsted for taking a ‘narrow’ view of regional action to protect children, warning that the role of everyone involved in protection was not being included in a judgement.
Council leaders urged the watchdog to recognise the ‘crucial importance’ of joint working between local authorities, police and health agencies.
Ofsted will on Tuesday give evidence to MPs on the Jay Review into historic child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
Council leaders fear that current proposals to revamp inspection of children’s services would continue to see Ofsted and other inspectors working in ‘narrow silos’ and not fully assessing the total contribution of all local agencies.
Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said: ‘Keeping children safe is the most important thing that councils do, but we know we cannot do it alone. Protecting children does not fall only to councils, but to the police, health services, schools and local groups. Inspections must reflect this.
‘It is not fair to the children we are working to protect that Ofsted inspections only focus on council children’s services, failing to properly assess the essential work done by other organisations.
‘We all recognise that it is only by working together to improve the way we protect children in the future that this evil crime can be eradicated and victims given the confidence to come forward.
‘We need scrutiny processes to adopt the same approach, so every organisation involved in child protection is examined during an inspection. Councils are committed to this joint work; we need inspection processes to adapt so nothing falls through the cracks.’
An Ofsted spokesperson said:'Ofsted shares the LGA’s commitment to protecting children and agree with the need for an inspection approach that takes into account all of the different services involved. At the same time it is important that inspectors with the right knowledge and experience take the lead in their own areas.
'We are working very closely with the Care Quality Commission and the criminal justice inspectorates to evaluate the recent pilot integrated inspections. Maximising the collaboration between inspectorates remains at the heart of how we believe we can continue to support improvement in the sector and contribute to sharing the best practice across all the agencies seeking to protect children from sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse and neglect.'