Two zero rated councils optimistic about star upgrade

Two of the 10 zero-star social services departments are
“cautiously optimistic” they will be awarded a star when the
ratings are updated this autumn, writes Lauren

The refreshed ratings will take account of new inspection and
joint review evidence collated before the end of June, and of the
2001-2 performance assessment framework performance indicators due
to be published in October.

For the zero-star departments, refreshed ratings will also take
account of assessments carried out on behalf of health minister
Jacqui Smith about whether they have made sufficient progress to
inspire confidence in their capacity and capability, based on
monitoring data submitted as part of their action or performance
improvement plans.

A guidance note sent to social services inspectorate staff last
week says Smith has indicated that she expects the overall
refreshing exercise to lead to “relatively few changes”.

However, it adds: “Zero star councils may gain a star only when
there is extremely robust evidence to justify it. It is possible,
therefore, that some councils may have moved into or from the
zero-star rating at the point of refresh, which will therefore
focus on the latest star-rating judgement.”

Although two of the 10 – which refused to be named –
were hopeful of an improved rating, the others were either less
hopeful or reluctant to comment.

Interim director of Bromley council’s zero-star social
services department Bob Ward, who did not wish to be drawn on his
department’s chances of achieving one-star when the ratings
are refreshed, said: “The real goal is sustainable improvement.
It’s not about getting a quick turn around that is then not
sustainable. What we are working on is achieving one-star, then
improving beyond that.”

The guidance suggests inspectors evaluating the new evidence
should give priority to councils where performance indicators were
a dominant factor in the May rating decision, or where a council
was judged to be close to a boundary between ratings.

The refreshed ratings will then feed into the comprehensive
performance assessment judgements for councils’ overall
performance in December.

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