Jul 31 2012

Harrow’s Ofsted Report for Safeguarding and Looked After Children – ‘adequate’

Harrow Council’s safeguarding and looked after children services have been rated as merely ‘adequate’ by inspectors; meeting only the minimum requirements for such services. The second from bottom rating was handed to the Labour-run authority by Ofsted (summary here, full report here), after an inspection in May 2012. Specific criticisms of the safeguarding service were that the child protection work “lacked appropriate focus”, with joint working between the authority and health providers deemed “problematic”. And the service for looked after children was criticised for being “insufficiently analytical” and for changing young peoples’ social workers too often.

Shadow Children’s Services Portfolio Holder Cllr. Christie Bednell said: “This report must serve as a wake up call for the Council’s Labour administration, as well as its NHS partners; Harrow deserves better than this. The issues at the heart of this report affect some of Harrow’s most vulnerable young residents, and these services are among the most vital the Council provides. What is also of concern is that Ofsted ranked only as ‘adequate’ the Council’s capacity to improve its safeguarding service; so not only is the service not good enough, it may also struggle to get better.”

Cllr. Bednell continued: “The report sets out key areas where the Council needs to work harder, particularly on improving things like individual child protection plans and using feedback to better the service. However, NHS Harrow must also step up to the plate, as it is criticised for being ‘too slow’ on safeguarding, and for failing to provide an ‘effective strategic level clinical perspective’ on children looked after. NHS Harrow also carries a sizeable share of the blame for the one service area marked as inadequate – addressing and identifying the health needs of these children.”

Cllr. Bednell concluded: “While this report is not entirely negative, and suggests that a new operating model within the Council may address some of the issues, it clearly sets out significant failings at both the Council and NHS Harrow. Nobody should be taking any comfort from its conclusions because these services are fundamental to the welfare of some of our most vulnerable young residents. The Council and NHS Harrow simply must do better.”

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