Headlines: December 9th, 2009

Children’s Services provided by nine local authorities have been judged to be poor in the first Ofsted annual ratings measuring performance in 152 councils in England. More than two-thirds of councils are delivering excellent or good services and forty others have been rated as merely adequate in today’s report.

In those councils performing poorly overall Ofsted says this was due mainly to weaknesses in safeguarding children.Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said the new inspection system gave the clearest picture yet of what was happening on the ground for children and young people.

“In this first year of our new approach, I have made it clear that we have raised expectations for local authorities. We are considering a wider range of services and outcomes for children and young people, and in that sense we are being more demanding,” she said.

The annual rating is a wide-ranging assessment of outcomes for children and young people in every local authority area and it is strongly based on evidence from inspections. The system places an emphasis on the direct observation of professional practice, including inspection of child protection services and safeguarding, childcare, schools, children’s social care and provision in the learning and skills sector.

Christine Gilbert said inspectors had made their judgements in a rounded way and within the various levels there were likely to be stronger and weaker aspects of provision. An overall rating of ‘excellent’ did not indicate that everything was perfect and within a judgement of ‘performs poorly’, it was possible some aspects of the overall service were adequate or even good and already improving.