Damning report shows council care of vulnerable Island children as ‘Inadequate’

Official report shows shamefully lacking service provided by the council towards the most vulnerable in society.

In a damning report, published today, the Isle of Wight council has been judged as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in performing their duty to protect children and young people. ‘Inadequate’ is the lowest grade available.

The opening paragraph of the summary document speaks volumes:-

The purpose of the inspection is to look at how well the council and other organisations help and protect children and young people to be safe from harm and to be well cared for.

Overall we rated the Isle of Wight as inadequate for how effective child protection services are.

Inadequate in every category
The report is grim reading, with every category stamped Inadequate.

  • Overall effectiveness – Inadequate
  • The effectiveness of the help and protection provided to children, young people, families and carers – Inadequate
  • The quality of practice – Inadequate
  • Leadership and governance – Inadequate

Grim reading
The report is thorough and detailed, explaining how the Inspectors spent a ten day period at the council, between 26 November to 5 December 2012, looking through case files.

Here’s a sample of comments from some of the sections.

  • 14 – “During this inspection a significant number of cases were brought to the attention of the local authority where children and young people had not been adequately protected and the circumstances of these cases indicated that there are significant weaknesses and systemic failures in core child protection business.”
  • 22 – “The majority of assessments seen are of poor quality, lacking sufficient analysis of risk and indicating a lack of understanding of risk factors.”
  • 22 – “This has resulted in some children and young people not getting help and protection at the right time and in some cases left in situations where there is risk of significant harm.”
  • 25 – “Too many strategy and legal planning meetings are ineffectively led by consultant social work staff demonstrating a lack of planning, decision making, recognition of risk and appropriate actions to minimise risk.”
  • 29 – “Too many cases are kept at contact stage that should be escalated to a referral and initial assessment. This exposes some children and young people to unnecessary risk and inspectors found too many cases where there was not a timely and robust response to their need for protection.”
  • 29 – “the council did not initially recognise all the weaknesses inherent in their practice and partner agencies also report with some frequency that cases that meet the threshold for assessment are not escalated by the First Response team and these are too often held at CAF level or given no service at all.”
  • 40 – “Leadership and governance is inadequate.”

Island’s Children’s centres praised
The only sign of some good news is the Island’s Children’s centres.

26 – “Children’s centres are located in the areas of most need and provide good quality services with those that have been inspected by Ofsted being rated as good or better.”

Have you seen more?
The report is detailed, we’ve done what we can to highlight the key points, but it’s highly possible that there are items that we have overlooked. Please feel free to add items or comments below.

This from the council
Below is what the council issued today. They chose not to send this to the media (well On The Wight, at least), but instead posted it to the ‘News’ section of the council’s Website.

Joint statement from the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education Cllr Dawn Cousins and Ian Anderson, Director of Community Wellbeing and Social Care.
“The council accepts the findings of the inspection report and is taking these extremely seriously. We recognise that failings have been identified and fully agree that this is not acceptable. We are determined to investigate and resolve these and to ensure that the high standards of social work practice rightly expected are delivered by this authority.

“At the same time, we want to reassure the Island community that as a result of our investigations following the inspection we have confirmed that the main areas of concern about social work practice were limited to the performance of a small number of staff in a specific area of the service and we have acted promptly in taking action in relation to those employees.

“The vast majority of our staff are hard-working, committed individuals with the interests of children and young people at the heart of everything they do – a fact that was recognised within the report – and we know that they are as disappointed as we are with the findings of this inspection and are committed to addressing the shortcomings identified.

“We recognise however that we all need to take responsibility for improving the care and protection of young people on the Island; from strengthening our leadership and governance arrangements, to ensuring all agencies challenge each other effectively and that we address the quality and robustness of the systems and practice that we have in place, particularly those relating to assessments and planning.

“We know we are not alone in receiving this judgement following this much more rigorous new inspection regime from Ofsted, however we welcome the thoroughness of this process and its ability to shed light on issues that might have otherwise been harder to identify.

“In response to the inspection outcomes, as well as dealing with immediate staffing issues we have already:

– appointed an interim senior qualified and experienced social work manager, with immediate effect, to work closely with the Deputy Director to examine and strengthen social work practice and management across Children’s social care services

– undertaken a thorough review of 700 cases that were referred to us over the last four months and where a decision was made that no further action was required. This work, undertaken by staff who were not involved in the original case decisions, has now been completed and it is reassuring that in most of these cases the decisions made were sound. Where issues have been identified, the appropriate course of action has been taken to ensure that no child is at risk of harm or abuse.

“We are also continuing the work we had started before the inspection to address the structure and work of the local safeguarding children’s board (LSCB), working closely with the new chair and partner organisations, to ensure its effectiveness in providing oversight and leadership to all aspects of safeguarding vulnerable children and young people..

“We are pleased that some aspects of the council’s work in this area have been praised within the report; in particular the work to provide early help to children, young people and their families and especially that support provided by children’s centres and schools, our work with children and young people with disabilities and their families and our support for vulnerable teenagers.

“We are also pleased that our efforts to embed a new nationally recognised best practice model of organising social work teams has been acknowledged along with our success in reducing social worker vacancies and delivering a comprehensive learning and development programme. These are key building blocks in helping us strengthen the quality of social work on the Island.

“The safeguarding of children and young people on the Island and the support to their families is, and will continue to be, a key priority to both members and officers of this council and we continue to support that with the investment of more funding, as proposed in our recent budget report to Cabinet.”

Detailed report


Summary report


Update: 14:29 Reordered text, removed block quote.

Tuesday, 15th January, 2013 1:21pm

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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Ofsted reports, Top story

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46 Comments on "Damning report shows council care of vulnerable Island children as ‘Inadequate’"

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Man in Black

Bye bye Stevie boy.

Nearly lost for words

This is the worst, most shameful failure this council has been involved with. How can you fail to protect children? I’m completely and utterly disgusted by them.

Man or a mouse
This is a test for David Pugh’s metal. He talks a big game. Let’s see if he’s got the backbone to act it. Heads must roll this time over this shameful exposure. I’m not talking about picking a scapegoat or two. I’m talking about ridding the council of the people that are actually responsible for this travesty. People that should be signing their resignation letters, or failing… Read more »
martin william wareham

Squeak Squeak

Dalek

“Leadership and governance – Inadequate.” Sadly, that won’t surprise anyone with this council.

Cynic
Classic political response to any criticism composed from the handbook provided by the mandatory Political Excuses 101 course. “We are sorry” (we have been found out!). “(Whatever the role criticised as poor) is our highest priority!2 (‘The safeguarding of children and young people on the Island and the support to their families is, and will continue to be, a key priority.’) “It was the fault of somebody… Read more »
retiredhack
Dawn Cousins is full of weasel words, isn’t she? “The main areas of concern about social care practice were limited to the performance of a small number of staff in a specific area of the service.” Well that’s hardly borne out by Ofsted’s findings: “During this inspection a significant number of cases were brought to the attention of the local authority where children and young people had… Read more »
Jake_Gully

Cynic and retired hack offer an excellent critique – agree 100% with their appraisal.

The Council is failing badly in its duty and root and branch change is required immediately. Not only are fresh heads requried, but Children’s Services needs to be adequately resourced to perform its vital roles.

wightywight
Let me tell you that whilst not exonerating Dawn Cousins whatsoever, the responsible person for this mess …and it is a mess seen right across Social Services, not only Child protection…is Ian Anderson who has overseen far reaching and terminal damage to Social Services across the Island. The cuts that have taken place (..it is here the Councillors have to be held to account, not just Dawn… Read more »
Black Dog

Wightywight, you make some very interesting observations. I agree Ian Anderson must go, along with his pay-masters Brown (known as the real leader of the council by senior officers) Pugh and Beynon.

Why have Ofsted, having identified the serious issues, not made recommendation on personnel change at every level? Surely they have the ultimate duty of care?

Man in Black

Resignations needed, NOW!

Robbo
Council meeting tomorrow night. I half-expect to read later of demands for resignations from opposition members, though I guess they are already being demanded by members of the ruling Tory group. Don’t be surprised to see Dawn Cousins gone by 6pm tomorrow and an announcement about Director Ian Anderson or his deputy leaving – Beynon couldn’t possibly take the rap. He is too shameless for that. Some… Read more »
Black Dog

Both suggested possible replacements are all text book and no practical skills. Take it from someone who knows.

Amanda BH
I am disgusted with this council’s inadequacies and as someone has pointed out, their weasel words. These poor kids are going to be affected for the rest of their lives because of this council’s inability to sort out what must have been obvious problems. It’s all very well them saying they are going to make changes, but it’s little too late for those already let down by… Read more »
davimel
So.. the council don’t do even a basic job, namely to protect our children.. and the solution?….. Employ an interim senior qualified and experienced social work manager, with immediate effect, to work closely with the Deputy Director!!!!! So yet another £80k job is created to solve an issue that should have been sorted a LONG time ago, not by throwing money away,,, but by doing what was… Read more »
lilly

Sad and depressing, especially for the children and families that have been let down by the service provided. If it all comes from lack of Government funds – shameful, especially when they employed ‘consultant’ social work staff who ineffectively led meetings. Are these the signs of how badly things are going wrong with public service cuts, or just bad leadership? Suffer little children.

Sciolist
Sad for the children let down by this terrible council. Mr Beynon is supposed to be an education expert – children are his speciality. How can he carry on taking £150,000 a year when we have this? Let’s not forget the KS2 and GCSE results being among the worst in the country. Then there’s the Cowes school fiasco and the college in decline story, also revealed today?… Read more »
Morgan B.
This is disgraceful. Im ashamed to be at CEC, as its incompetency to teach and to manage its pupils and buildings properly most likely started this chain of events, sadly leading to Ofsted bearing down on us as having Inadequate care. You know Alan, this all could have been avoided if you didn’t jump the gun on CEC in November and did a better job on disciplining… Read more »
block8
I have just spent 10 minutes of my life going through some recent headlines …… Damming report shows care of Island Children as inadequate. Cowes Enterprise College, “Grim catalogue of failures” Council’s IW Adult and Community Learning College ‘Requires improvement’ say Ofsted. Niton Roads non salted. Ombudsman find maladministration at Isle of Wight council. Stop talking about ferry services, visitors may hear, says councillor Council officers suspended… Read more »
Cynic

@block8 “When exactly is “enough is enough”?”

On Thursday 2 May 2013!

Of course, by that time most of the perpetrators will have cut and run.

Sciolist

Now.

tryme
Dawn Cousins is cowardly to blame matters on “a small number of staff”. People in the know have for some years been horrified that open management sores in Childrens have just not been dealt with. This has had a critical effect on the morale & health of staff, who have been thrown about in their daily working lives by these chronic management failures. It very much affects… Read more »
bayboy

Ian Anderson, the Director, is, ‘a small number of staff’

Robert Jones

What is surprising here is not the report so much as the Council’s reaction to it. Their defence is simply not consistent with the charges laid against them of inadequacy at every level, including that of management and governance.

Responsibility has to come back to the Director of Social Services above anyone else; and his failure is such that he should go, now.

RJC
I would not jump straight at Ian Anderson, who oversees both the child and adult departments for the council. Reading his profile from previous employments he seems fit for the job. The trouble comes from above, they have pruned his staff down so much that the departments cannot work as efficiently as they should. They are now jumping through hoops to get enough people, although they will… Read more »
Crouchie
I have just finished reading the whole Ofstead report.I feel ashamed of my home Island and my Local Authority that has missmanaged and spun so many many untruths to the Adult voters with regard to the Children and Young People of the Island. You have left a whole generation of Children with an inadequate level of Educational standards against the National average. School Buildings “Not fit for… Read more »
Chris Welsford
Politicians are ultimately responsible for this and for all aspects of the work of the Council. Whilst officers have to be competent and skilful in the work that they do, it is the politicians that are responsible for recruitment, oversight and policy. Not only must we employ the right people, we must give them the wherewithal to do their jobs to the standard we require. That standard… Read more »
wightywight
@Chris Welsford: Whilst I accept the premise that “politicians are ultimately responsible” ..indeed, if we want to evaluate the causes we can direct our attentions to even further up the Political greasy pole and assert that cuts from Central Government to Local Authorities (tied into *forced* no Council Tax rises…)have impacted the ability of this administration to perform adequately. However, it is also true to say that… Read more »
Dreamer50
LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT INADEQUATE Dear Mr Beynon, Mr Anderson, Ms Matthews. We all know you cannot resist reading these blogs. Those that have worked in the Council also know exactly how you operate . We also know that you all knew the problems within Children’s Services – you have been told by enough officers over time of the issues. At least it would have been more honest… Read more »
Barney McGrew
Cllr. Cousins and the other Tory no-hopers should hang their heads in shame. How on earth can she blame front line staff when the report clearly indicates that lack of strategy and leadership was to blame! I quote from the report: 40. Leadership and governance is inadequate. The strategic priorities of the council and its partners are not sufficiently explicit about the need to safeguard and protect… Read more »
Barney McGrew

I’ve had an idea!

Howabout we stop employing these johnny come lately expensive underperforming overners who stay just long enough to feather their pension nest then dissappear clutching a large cheque and leaving behind an unholy mess.

We could employ people who live here and actually CARE about our Island.

sam salt
Unfortunately Barney those that live here are mostly not qualified to do the job that the “underperforming overners” are undertaking. Hence why they recruit from North Island. The one thing they have not picked up is that high performers don’t want to come here, hence we get the bottom of the barrel. I know someone who sat on Beynon’s interview panel and the reason for employing him,… Read more »
willieswildworld
Well to anyone in the know , or knows someone who works in this area ,they would tell you the rot here is firmly at the top of the tree i.e.:- Ian Anderson , Ali Matthews and the 2 NON QUALIFIED Commissioners. These people are the cause and the blockage of this disaster for all those people below them whom are working to such levels of pressure… Read more »
Sciolist

The dear old CP is very on-side with this story.

Has anyone noticed comments are not allowed on its own dreary website?

Expect it to be buried on page 94 tomorrow – along with all the other council woes.

willieswildworld

Ahh yes the dear old CP have they not got any journalists working for them ?

I expect Charlotte will be full of praise for the council as well

But of course you all know how much the council holds this site in utter contempt
i’d be surprised if any of the tories have got a spine

Voice of experience
I myself have been witness to Ali Matthews releasing her, self named , risky strategies, to get children out of the looked after system and back within their homes…. Is it not preventing children from being at risk of harm her main priority and as opposed to putting them in a situation of further risk? I fully believe she sees our children and young people as numbers… Read more »
retiredhack
The not-very-coded language of the Council’s statement in response to the Ofsted report suggests that people have been sacked as a result of it, whether justifiably or not. I would like to know whether the silence of these people has been bought with Compromise Agreements (pay-off deals) which include confidentiality clauses, contactually barring them from speaking publicly about what has happened. Such clauses are commonly used by… Read more »
Bystander

“The majority of assessments seen are of poor quality, lacking sufficient analysis of risk and indicating a lack of understanding of risk factors.”

Could just as easily apply to the PFI, or anything else these fools touch.

Victor Meldrew
Whilst people are rightly angry at the local authority for the disgraceful performance in protecting the youngest and most vulnerable of our Island they should not lose sight of the fact that the Local Safeguarding Cildren Board (LSCB)was heavily criticised. The members need to take their share of the blame for this farago. What were all these people doing? The supposed “great and good”. Follow this link… Read more »
garry williams

So now you have just created the situation where many families are going to become the target of bean counters whose children are going to be forcibly and wrongly taken into care just so the general public can be calmed into seeing the island is now taking its duty seriously, another Baby P hysteria coming up.

sam salt
@Garry your comment show some hysteria. What makes you believe that children are going to be forcibly and wrongly taken into care. The general public are quite calm. Ofsted were so disgusted with children’s services on the Island they instigated the move to Hampshire. This can only be a good thing in my opinion. To leave the service in the hands of Ian Anderson would be doing… Read more »
Garry williams
Hysteria – not at all, you only have to look at forced-adoption.com or facebook groups or even our own media that regularly seems to print about failings of LA’s or their haste to remove a child without careful investigation of such things as neighbor spite and chinese whispers. Hate your neighbor ?, make a LA report on their children being abused, look at the recent case where… Read more »
garry williams

So you cant take criticism or a reply then, you have to delete them if they are not aligned with what you wish. I suppose that shows just how you act in care cases with the evidence that does not fit your view either. Hide it !.

Sally Perry

The comment added at 1.52pm contained a web link which automatically placed it in moderation.

As you can see it has now been approved – not deleted.

deeplysuspicious
They never sack these people. They move them around to another local authority despite their inefficiency at doing their job, their poor leadership, their obvious blame culture and inability to accept responsibility for their own failings, then their poor practice and poor strategies of intimidation of families, their lies to court, under oath, to cover their own inefficiencies, their power hungry abuse of postion……hey we’ve seen it… Read more »
Island Monkey

Our education system works in exactly the same way. No-one is ever sacked, however incompetent, they just get dumped on another set of unsuspecting pupils and parents.