The tougher standards being applied by Ofsted to children’s services departments have left local government’s improvement body struggling to fulfil its remit.
The Children’s Improvement Board – set up by the LGA, Solace and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and funded by the Department for Education to improve performance in children’s services - is struggling to support councils beyond the worst-performing as a result of the rise in poor Ofsted reports.
The organisation is now calling for more funding from the Department for Education amid concerns about is work.
As reported by LGC earlier this month, there has been a sudden increase in the number of councils judged to be failing as Ofsted applies tougher standards in its inspections of council safeguarding and looked-after children services. This has left the board unable to pursue improvement in other services more widely across the sector.
Concerns about the body were raised in a report to the LGA Improvement Board earlier this month.
“The incidence of inspection failure remains unacceptably high,” the report said. “This means that significant resources from CIB are needed to support the small minority of councils in intervention and away from contributing to the work of early support and early improvement.”
LGC understands that the board believes additional funding from the DfE is necessary to address the issue, and that officials from the department have been made aware of this as observers at its meetings.
Without more funding, the board may have to call for extra money to be diverted to its work from other improvement programmes – especially if the number of councils receiving poor Ofsted reports for their children’s safeguarding services continues to rise.
Asked about the situation, David Simmonds (Con), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “The CIB’s priority is to make sure children are safe, so it has to focus on the most important bits, the life-or-death stuff.
“It should be doing more than that. There are councils that are good at safeguarding but want support to develop other priorities. But it has to be properly resourced and there is discussion happening with the DfE about that.”