Headlines: November 9th, 2011

The improvement in children’s services is still too variable says Ofsted in a new report. All authorities are urged to aspire to provide the highest level of services for all children and young people in their community.

Where the performance of authorities has declined since the last report, and are now judged as performing only adequately, the quality of services is mixed and too much is only satisfactory. Typically, there has been little or no improvement, or even a decline in services, including primary and secondary schools. In addition, strategies to narrow achievement gaps between children whose circumstances make them potentially vulnerable and their peers are not always successful, especially for 16-year-olds from low-income families.

In the best performing authorities there are high numbers of services and settings which are good or outstanding. There are also strengths in local safeguarding arrangements and services for looked after children. As a result, most reach educational standards that are at least in line with national averages for their age, although lower attainment among looked after children remains a widespread concern.

In authorities that perform poorly there are substantial inadequacies in keeping children and young people safe from harm and too many schools and sixth forms are no better than satisfactory. Levels of absences in schools are high and standards of behaviour are not as good as elsewhere.