Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has today apologised and reaffirmed her commitment to the borough’s children and young people, following an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), into the council’s children’s services.
Inspectors flagged a number of concerns and judged the borough’s children’s services as “inadequate” overall. While they highlighted some examples of good practice - finding that vulnerable children are safe in Newham and social workers know their children well - Ofsted said that children’s services have deteriorated since they were last inspected in 2014.
The report, published today, rated the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families; the experiences and progress of of children in care and care leavers, and the overall effectiveness of the children’s services as inadequate. The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection were rated “requires improvement”
The council has already introduced a raft of measures to improve services, and has committed to the greatest investment in the borough’s young people in a generation.
Mayor Fiaz said: “It’s clear that services for children and young people in Newham have not been good enough, and I apologise unreservedly to our young people and their families for the unacceptable failings.
“I’m ambitious for our borough’s children and promised before I was elected Mayor that I would place them at the forefront of our work and make Newham a child-centred borough - these findings further underline my commitment.
“We have made improvements during my first 10 months as Mayor, and my budget last month saw the council agree to the greatest investment in services for Newham’s children and young people in a generation.
“We will also be implementing an immediate action plan to address other issues highlighted by Ofsted, and we are determined to work in partnership with children and young people to ensure that their needs and priorities are at the heart of our improvements.”
Improvements already made to children’s services in Newham include:
- Multi-million additional investment, including £10.6m for children’s services; £1.4m in youth services, and £1.3m for special educational provision in the 2019/20 Budget. 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.
- A robust service improvement plan to be monitored by a Safeguarding Improvement Board.
- 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 measures will include:
- 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.
- Greater oversight of improvements by the Mayor, Cabinet, Council and Overview and Scrutiny.
- A proposed new corporate structure to bring greater leadership in children’s services, including new roles that will ensure the voice and ambitions of young people are reflected across all council services.
Mayor Fiaz added: “Although there has been unprecedented cuts to our budgets by central government during the past decade, we know we have to do better. We are committed to working with all our staff, our dedicated social workers, Newham’s children and families, our partners, the DfE and Ofsted to give every child and young person in our borough the services they deserve.”
Fran Pearson, chair of Newham Safeguarding Children Board, said: “As safeguarding partners we take some comfort in that the Ofsted inspectors identified no systemic failures in child protection and safeguarding, which is our main priority. As a partnership, the agencies that make up Newham Safeguarding Children Board recognise that children and young people have been let down in other parts of their journey through the system. Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her administration have grasped the scale of the improvements that need to be made and we are fully committed to supporting the work to turn things around.”