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Ofsted critical of Surrey's 'Adequate' Children's Services

October 22, 2010 6:00 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
Unhappy face

Ofsted defines "adequate" as meaning "only meets minimum requirements"

Ofsted has given Surrey County Council an overall grade of 'adequate' for safeguarding children and for looked after children, following its unannounced inspection of Children's Social Services.

'This is better than failing again, but hardly glowing praise,' said County Councillor Pauline Searle, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Children and Families. 'In spite of the hard work of staff, some of the most basic problems haven't been properly sorted out. For example, the inspectors say that the services which should keep our "looked after" young people healthy are inadequate. The percentage of health checks has actually fallen, immunisation rates are down, and access to the child and adolescent mental health service is "variable."'

Although the Inspectors found 'strong' and 'clear' leadership from the County Council, they were critical of the way Surrey County Council works with health services, GPs and the police. They particularly commented on failures of communication in work for children and young people with physical and learning difficulties.

'There are new thresholds for help that the inspectors say aren't understood or used consistently. Often no one knows exactly who is responsible for what, and what can be done,' commented Liberal Democrat County Councillor Diana Smith. 'I think the inspectors are spot-on here; I know from talking to parents that there's still a lot of muddle and confusion. Parents with disabled children could do without having to fight their way through inconsistent bureaucracy.'

The Council inspectors warn of the 'challenge' the council and its partners face in getting better, now that the external "Improvement Board" is no longer there to check on it. 'We've already seen cuts to the voluntary sector slashing support for vulnerable young people', said County Councillor Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Surrey County Council.

'It's a shame that the Conservatives let Children's Services get into such an appalling state in the economic good times. We now face a crisis of cuts and massive reorganisation in a barely "adequate" condition.'