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Birmingham children’s services turn corner

Birmingham children’s services turn corner

🕔15.Jun 2017

This week’s news that Ofsted, the education and children’s services inspection body, has praised Birmingham city council’s progress in children’s services comes as welcome news for the local authority – and for young people needing intervention and support.

The Ofsted report, following a monitoring visit to examine the progress of children’s services since its latest full inspection in September last year, has found the city council “is making steady progress, and has taken some important steps in improving services for its children and young people”.

Issues with children’s services have been among the key performance issues faced by Birmingham city council which have led to poor official ratings, the imposition of Government appointed commissioners, the Kerslake Review and establishment of the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel.

A number of deaths of children in the care of the council have shocked communities and brought the city children’s services into the national spotlight.

Ofsted inspectors visited the council in May to review progress made in the areas of help and protection. They examined case records and spoke to families receiving services, as well as social workers and managers.

They found that “although substantial further progress is required before services are consistently good, in a number of key areas children in Birmingham are receiving better and timelier services. Against a long-standing history of failing to provide good services for children, this represents notable progress”.

The report will not affect the council’s ‘inadequate’ rating as it was not a full inspection, but it will give council leaders and officials hope for improved ratings to come.

Additionally the report found:
• Improved management oversight
• Assessments of children’s needs largely completed without delay and are more child focused, with an improved quality of analysis in most cases
• When children are at immediate risk of significant harm, this is quickly recognised and effectively responded to
• Staff morale is generally good.

Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and families, said:

I’m very pleased to see that the steady progress we have made is being recognised; this reflects a tremendous amount of work from a huge cast of people who have worked tirelessly to get the best outcomes for our children and families.

Of course we recognise – as does Ofsted – that there is still a long way to go; we have always said that we would need to build strong foundations before we can ensure sustainable improvements.

However, this is tangible evidence that we are heading firmly in the right direction and I know there will be no complacency as we continue on our improvement. This is a great step forward, building strongly on improvements found in our last Ofsted full inspection.

The Leader of Birmingham city council, Councillor John Clancy, said:

The latest Ofsted inspection demonstrates beyond doubt that Birmingham Children’s Services’ long journey of improvement is marching firmly in the right direction.

The Inspectors found ‘notable progress’, were satisfied that most concerns about children’s welfare are being dealt with promptly, and concluded that almost all children are now receiving the right level of service.

I made it clear when becoming council leader that improving children’s services would be my first priority. I am therefore particularly pleased to note Ofsted’s finding that children and young people in Birmingham at immediate risk of significant harm are quickly recognised and effectively responded to.

As the Ofsted report correctly points out, substantial further progress is required before services are consistently good. There is no room for complacency and I will not be satisfied until Birmingham Children’s Services are rated as excellent.

An independent Birmingham Children’s Trust is currently being established to take over the running of children’s services.

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