Local Authority Children’s Services And Social Care Are Improving

{mosimage}The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) have published the second round of annual performance assessments (APA) for 102 local authorities. The situation has improved since last year, with 10 authorities judged excellent and 76 judged good for their contribution to improving services for children and young people overall, and within that group, 15 authorities judged excellent and 60 judged good for the quality of social care they offer. Fourteen authorities are making an adequate contribution to improving services for children and young people, with two making an inadequate contribution for services overall. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, Christine Gilbert, said: “In spite of the many strengths emerging across a number of authorities, it is the provision for some of our most vulnerable children and young people that remains of grave concern.

“Not enough looked after children have a named social worker and it is not acceptable that in 2004/05 less than 10% of young people in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C compared with a national figure of 57.1%.”

“I shall continue to focus sharply, as CSCI has done, on these issues when Ofsted assumes responsibility for the inspection of children’s social care in April 2007, and I am pleased to see that the government is making this such a high priority through the children in care green paper.”

CSCI’s Chief Inspector, Paul Snell, added: “CSCI and Ofsted continue to work together, recognising when local authorities are performing well, but also making sure poorly performing authorities are closely monitored. Throughout this time of transition, we will make sure they have action plans in place and place a high priority on improving services for children and young people.”

Local authorities have made progress in strengthening child protection work. On average child protection reviews are being undertaken on time in 99% of cases. There has also been a reduction, in the majority of authorities, in the number of looked after children who have three or more placement changes in a year.

However, more than 5% of looked after children did not have a named social worker in 2005/6. This is an improvement on 2004/5, when it was 6.6%, but a poorer performance than 2003/04 when the average was 2.7%. The educational attainment of looked after children is still a long way short of the level achieved by all children, and is improving only slowly.

In a third of councils, less than 50% of looked after children left school with a single GCSE at grade A*-G or a GNVQ. On average, less than one in ten young people in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grade A*-C or a GNVQ, a rise of less than one per cent over the past three years. There has been no reduction in the proportion of looked after children who missed 25 or more days of schooling.

Authorities are also judged on their capacity to improve, with 29 being judged excellent, 62 good, 9 adequate and two inadequate, and on the five outcomes for children. Ninety two councils were judged good or excellent for the ‘being healthy’ outcome; 72 were good or excellent for ‘staying safe’; 78 for ‘enjoying and achieving’; 95 for ‘making a positive contribution’ and 80 for ‘achieving economic well-being’.