Surrey Council has had its bid for a judicial review of last year’s Ofsted annual performance assessment of its children’s services turned down by the High Court.
The council had been rated as inadequate overall in children’s services, in safeguarding and in its capacity to improve by Ofsted in its annual performance assessment (APA) published in December. This followed a damning joint area review, published last July.
The council lodged the application for a judicial review because it claimed Ofsted had failed to recognise the extent to which it had improved between July’s joint area review and December.
Judge backs Ofsted
However, Mr Justice Sales found that Ofsted had acted correctly in judging Surrey’s capacity to improve as inadequate in the APA.
He said: “Ofsted properly considered that there were some indications of improvement (which shows how careful and balanced its assessment was) but concluded overall that these were not sufficiently widespread or relevant as to bring [Surrey] into the adequate category.”
An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Ofsted believed all along that this action was without merit. We conduct all of our work with the utmost rigour and we are pleased at this outcome.”
Surrey lets issue rest
Surrey said it would not pursue the matter. A spokesperson added: “Many of the services the council provides to children have been independently judged excellent or outstanding.”
Last year’s joint area review led the Department for Children, Schools and Families to impose an improvement notice on the council, which set a range of targets, including ensuring all looked-after children had an allocated social worker as of 31 March 2009.
In an interview with Community Care in February, children’s services director Andy Roberts said he was confident of meeting the targets.
Ofsted was awarded costs of £4,730.