Vulnerable children are being let down by weak leadership in too many local authorities, inspectors have claimed.
In Ofsted’s third social care annual report, which was published today, the watchdog warns there are too many inadequate children’s services departments across England.
According to the inspectorate, a quarter of children’s services departments (21) are rated as inadequate and 43 require improvement.
The report also concluded inadequate ratings are not related to area size, levels of deprivation or funding. Instead, the inspectors said the quality of leadership in the departments was the single most important factor.
‘While we have seen some green shoots of progress, too many areas are still failing the children they are charged with protecting,’ said Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw.
‘As I have said many times before, the driving factor that makes change happen at pace is good leadership. Areas that are letting children down must look to their higher performing counterparts with urgency, and follow their example.’
The report also found wide variations in workloads for social workers, with some dealing with up to seven children in need at a time, while others were dealing with as many as 34.
But inspectors said the picture for residential care was improving and four out of five children’s homes are now rated as good or better.
‘There can be no doubt that local government has the commitment and expertise required to turn around struggling services, without the need for externally imposed structures or operating models,’ said the chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, Cllr Roy Perry.
‘Giving councils the time to establish solid foundations for improvement, learn from other authorities and embed new processes and learning is vital for them to move forward for the benefit of their local areas.’
Sir Michael Wilshaw told The MJ he was ‘very tempted’ to name and shame poor performing individual managers in future reports.