Headlines: October 16th, 2009

More than a third of serious case reviews designed to protect children are still inadequate according to a report today from Ofsted. It blames weak management and a lack of joint working for flaws in the system but says Local Safeguarding Children Boards are learning from cases where a child dies or is seriously injured through abuse or neglect.

In a study of 173 serious case reviews, 23 per cent were judged to be good but the Ofsted report says weaknesses still exist and 34 per cent of reviews were inadequate. In ‘Learning lessons from serious case reviews: year 2’, The Ofsted report says there is evidence that the Local Boards are taking a more robust approach to support the learning of lessons from tragic incidents and to improve their practice. More reviews are being carried out and by a larger number of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The reviews are being carried out more quickly, with greater levels of independence and the backlog of historic cases has now largely been addressed. There are also signs that LSCBs are co-operating more readily in cases that span more than one area.

The report does, though, find a number of weaknesses in practice. Weak management and a lack of joint working within and across agencies persist in some areas. Inspectors also found instances of failure to focus on the needs of the child, insufficient staff expertise, inadequate risk assessments and poor identification of ethnic or social cultural issues. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said: “Much more work needs to be done to address the remaining weaknesses and to ensure that lessons lead to improved outcomes for children and young people. It is of great concern that over a third of reviews are still judged inadequate.”