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Inspection of Children's Social Care Services

Newham Council’s children’s services were inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) between 11 and 22 February 2019. The inspection looked at the quality of the services we deliver on behalf of the borough’s children, and how we perform across a number of areas of work.

Ofsted found that, while children in Newham who need help and protection are appropriately safeguarded and social workers know their children well, the service overall is not doing as well as it should. Inspectors rated our children’s services overall as inadequate, and there are a number of things we need to do to improve. 

Newham’s children’s services Ofsted ratings 

​​Judgement Grade​
The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families Inadequate​
​The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection Requires improvement​
​The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers Inadequate​
​Overall effectiveness Inadequate​

What Ofsted found

  • When children in Newham are identified as being in need of help and protection, they are appropriately safeguarded 
  • The quality of help and protection of our disabled children’s team is strong 
  • Our social workers know their children well, and many children benefit from good quality assessments 
  • Most children in care live in appropriate placements that meet their needs 
  • The emotional and mental health needs of children in care are understood and met. 
Where Ofsted said we have fallen short
  • Since the last Ofsted inspection in 2014, there has been a significant deterioration in children’s services 
  • Progress has not been made in making necessary improvements identified in 2014
  • Leaders are failing in their duties to children in care and care leavers 
  • Leaders have yet to create an environment for social work to flourish 
  • There has been a lack of ambition for children. 

How we will make things better

We are already making big changes to improve children’s services. Our 2019/20 budget, agreed by the Council last month, includes the biggest investment in Newham’s children’s services in ​a generation, with £10.6m for children’s services’, £1.4m for youth services, and £1.3m for special education provision. This is on top of additional in-year allocation of £10.6m for children services alongside £172,000 for those most vulnerable that Mayor Fiaz approved soon after she stepped into office in May 2018.​

We are also taking immediate action to tackle the other issues highlighted by Ofsted, and we have a robust improvement plan. The Ofsted report acknowledges our increased investment and that political and corporate support has been strengthened, and we are determined to build on this.

A number of urgent improvements are already under way, including: 
  • A robust service improvement plan, which will be monitored by a Safeguarding Improvement Board 
  • Bringing in new senior managers in key positions, including a new Director of Operations of Children’s Social Care and Safeguarding 
  • Stepping up senior managers’ interactions with social workers to ensure frontline staff are listened to 
  • Creating more opportunities for children to participate in the planning of their care and influence service development 
  • Improved quality and timeliness of social work assessments 
  • Improved quality and effectiveness of safety planning for children at risk of exploitation. 
Further improvements will include: 
  • Greater oversight of improvements by the Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Cabinet, Council and Overview and Scrutiny 
  • Additional support and training for social workers where needed 
  • Using examples of best practice to help staff understand what “good” looks like 
  • More training for managers 
  • Introducing a planned review schedule for every child in need 
  • A commitment to doing more to hear the views of children and families in improving services 
  • A proposed new corporate structure to bring greater leadership and capacity in children’s services, including two proposed new roles - a Children and Young People’s Commissioner and a Director for Children and Young People - that will ensure the voice and ambitions of young people are reflected across all council services.  

An apology from Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has apologised to residents, and in particular to Newham’s young people, for the failings highlighted in the Ofsted report, and for under-investment in the service under a previous administration. 

FAQs (Frequently asked questions)

What is Ofsted?

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. Ofsted is a non-ministerial Government department.

What did they review?

Ofsted inspectors reviewed specific areas of the children’s services department, including children who need help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, and social work practice. They visited the council and looked at case work in detail, as well as meeting with social workers, managers, the Mayor and Cabinet members and partner organisations. They reviewed documents, performance information and case audits.

Are children safe in Newham? 

It’s important to note that the Ofsted report identified that when children in Newham are identified as being in need of help and protection, they are appropriately safeguarded.

Effective work is undertaken with them to reduce risk and address their needs. When children’s circumstances do not improve, timely action is taken by social workers to safeguard their welfare. Children at risk of immediate harm are quickly identified and strategy discussions take place within 24 hours.

What happens if you fail to improve? 

We are committed to working internally, as well as with our partners, Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) to make improvements. We are making the greatest investment in children’s services in Newham in a generation, and are also bringing in greater leadership to improve capacity and performance and ensure our social workers have the support and resources they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. However, if improvements are not made quickly enough then the DfE could instruct the council to enter into a contract with a third party to deliver children’s services on the council’s behalf.

How will you keep people updated? 

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and elected members have committed to bringing pace to the improvement plan, including through greater oversight at Council, Cabinet, and Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which all meet publicly.

We will publish the action plan and improvement updates on this page and will share updates through the Newham Mag and press releases where necessary.

All of our progress work will be monitored by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which is open to the public.

We will also work closely with our children and families through our programme of Youth Citizen Assemblies, our staff and our partners.
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