Six councils receive red flags for poor children’s services

Six local authority children’s services have been given red flags, indicating serious concerns, under the Audit Commission’s new comprehensive area assessments (CAAs).

The assessments combine the findings of six inspectorates including Ofsted. Councils are judged against their own priorities and red flags are issued for areas with serious concerns, with green flags given for outstanding innovation.

The CAAs were partly based on Ofsted annual performance assessments for 2009, which included unannounced inspections as well as services for children in need and evaluations of serious case reviews. It judged nine councils to be performing poorly.

This is the same number as last year. The identities of the councils are not all the same, although Haringey, Doncaster, Essex, Birmingham and Wokingham remain in the bottom tier.

Meanwhile, the percentage of councils rated as performing “well” or as “excellent” fell from 73% to 68%, although Ofsted said it had raised its standards in the past year. Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert said those who were performing to the highest standards had “proved that it can be done”. However, LGA children and young people board chair Shireen Ritchie said “Ofsted could no longer sit on the sidelines and offer tick box judgements based on bureaucratic processes.”

Councils receiving red flags included Essex, Doncaster. Leeds, Cornwall, Haringey and Warrington, along with Sefton youth offending services for assessment failures.

Birmingham, Wokingham and Rotherham children’s services escaped red flags, despite also being rated as “poor” by Ofsted.

Explaining this, the Audit Commission said: “The Ofsted rating is a measure of current performance. A red flag indicates the inspectorates are not confident that the outcome in question will improve in the future. So it is possible to be rated poor by Ofsted and not have a red flag for the area if effective improvement work is underway and inspectorates are confident that the right actions are being taken.”

Six councils were given green flags for children-related services. Those given green flags, and rated as excellent by Ofsted, included Kensington and Chelsea, for closing the gap in education between poor children and their peers, the City of London for getting young, deprived people involved in the arts and York for its “working together” policies for disabled children.

Some poorly performing councils also achieved green flags including Birmingham’s scheme for the housing of homeless young people and Leeds for ensuring deprived areas benefit from economic growth in the city.

The Direct Gov Oneplace website for reviewing how well public services are doing in your area 

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