Ofsted: serious case reviews still need improvement

Figures published by Ofsted today revealed an increase in the number of serious case reviews rated as good since January 2008, but a proportion of inadequate serious case reviews which remains “too high”.

While no serious case review was evaluated as outstanding by the watchdog, the figures showed an improvement in the standard of serious case reviews carried out by local authorities into cases of child death, abuse or serious neglect. 

Since the beginning of 2009, 149 serious case reviews have been evaluated by Ofsted. Of these, 47 (32%) were evaluated as good, compared with just 28 (21%) in 2008. Thirty-six (24%) serious case reviews in 2009 were judged to be inadequate, compared with 52 (39%) in 2008, a 31% drop. There has also been a 25% increase in serious case reviews judged to be adequate since 2008.

However, of the 282 cases reviewed by Ofsted since January 2008, almost a third (88) were judged to be inadequate. The latest figures reveal that of the 103 cases evaluated by the watchdog from March to September 2009, a fifth (21) were rated inadequate.

“The number of Serious Case Reviews which are inadequate is too high, around one in five. This is, however, an improvement on the findings of Ofsted’s first report on its evaluations of SCRs, when 40% of the reviews evaluated in 2007/8 were found to be inadequate. Ofsted will shortly be publishing its report on evaluations completed in 2008/9,” said a spokesman for Ofsted. 

“There is evidence that local safeguarding children boards are now taking a more rigorous approach. However, much remains to be done to ensure that this is a feature of all reviews so that lessons are more effectively learned and put into practice and children are more effectively safeguarded,” he added.

“Every death of a child is a tragedy and the government is focusing relentlessly on children’s safety to drive improvements in practice and continue to learn lessons. It is good news that these figures show a further decrease in the proportion of SCRs rated as inadequate, falling from 40% in 2007/08 to 20% from March to September 2009,” said a spokesman for the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

“However, it is clear that there is still more to do. Through the establishment of the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit, there will be a co-ordinated approach across government to support and challenge children’s trusts and local authorities to drive up standards and the quality of practice.”

Improvements at Haringey

Of six serious case reviews since January 2008, Doncaster Council had two rated inadequate.

Troubled Birmingham Council has had eight serious case reviews since January 2008, half of which were judged to be ‘inadequate’, although of those conducted in 2009 all were rated adequate.

However, Haringey Council’s only serious case review since January 2008 was judged ‘good’ by Ofsted. 

The responsibility for evaluating serious case reviews was transferred to Ofsted from the Commission for Social Care Inspection in April 2007.

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