Almost 40% of serious case reviews assessed by Ofsted in the past six months have been deemed inadequate, according to figures released by the inspectorate today.
They showed that of 115 SCRs evaluated from September 2008 to February 2009, 24 were good, 47 adequate and 44 inadequate, representing 38% of the total.
The figures show a consistent picture of SCR quality over time, with 38 out of 92 SCRs (41%) from April 2007 to August 2008 deemed inadequate.
Debate over full publication
The statistics added fuel to the debate on whether SCRs should be published in full, after Lord Laming came out against the idea in his report on child protection last week.
Community Care called for the publication of anonymised full reports, as opposed to executive summaries, to improve learning from SCRs, in our submission to Laming’s review.
Shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton, who has also championed the idea, said today: “A major way forward to improve the standard of these SCRs must be to publish their findings in full, subject to suitable redaction and anonymisation.
“This will help everyone to learn the lessons of mistakes, will restore public confidence in the protection process and will ensure that no material facts are swept under the carpet.”
In his report last week, Laming said local safeguarding children boards should publish high-quality summaries which reflect the full reports, but said the latter should remain confidential.
He said: “Without this assurance, many would be reluctant to participate in the process, rendering the task worthless.”
However, responding to the report, Loughton questioned what assurances there would be that executive summaries would not be selective, and added: “Local authorities will still not be able to access full serious case reviews. It seems a nonsense that the real people who need to see them will not.”
Laming’s arguments ‘do not stand up’
Child protection trainer and consultant Perdeep Gill said: “Laming’s arguments just do not stand up to scrutiny in regard to why only executive summaries should be in the public domain. It is not good enough. Anonymised people are protected and legal recourse can be taken to protect identities if required.”
However, Laming backed other proposals made by Community Care and others to improve serious case reviews.
He said Working Together to Safeguard Children should be revised to ensure reviews focus on learning lessons effectively and said authors and review panel chairs should be independent of the agencies involved.
Both proposals echo Community Care‘s submission to the review, while he also backed our proposal for improved dissemination of SCRs, saying Ofsted should produce six-monthly reviews of lessons learned as well as assessments of SCRs’ quality.
Expert guide to the Laming report