Response to the Ofsted full inspection of Birmingham children’s social care
The publication of the Ofsted report confirms that the overall rating is ‘inadequate’ as we previously acknowledged we would be at this stage in our improvement journey, but we remain on track in terms of progress made. The report confirms significant progress; indeed, some areas have improved ahead of schedule.
We have already taken the positive decision to move towards a Trust model which will ensure a single focus on improved social work practice.
We can today announce that current children’s commissioner Andrew Christie has been appointed Chair of the proposed Birmingham Children’s Trust, and the Department for Education has confirmed this appointment.
Andrew was interviewed by a panel of children in care, as well as officers and members and partners, and his appointment was a unanimous decision.
Dave Hill, Executive Director for People at Essex County Council and president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, has been confirmed as new commissioner by the DfE.
Mark Rogers, chief executive of Birmingham City Council, said:
“Andrew has a long and distinguished background in children’s social care and has been a good critical friend during his time as children’s commissioner, providing guidance and assurance.
“The move to a Trust model will ensure there is a real focus on improving further our social work practice and Andrew is the right person for the job.
“I am also really pleased to welcome Dave Hill to the Birmingham family and look forward to working with him as we cement the improvements we have made to children’s services in the city.
“While the Ofsted report confirms we still have much to do we are making good progress, particularly around children in care, adoption and care leavers. Our operating model is sound, it is well understood and it is the right one.”
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children, families and schools, said:
“I am pleased we will continue to work with Andrew and I look forward to working with Dave Hill. Dave is extremely well-respected and I am confident he will offer valuable advice and experience.
“When we began our three-year improvement journey we said that we would remain ‘inadequate’ at this stage; however, there are areas that have improved to the next rating, earlier than expected. I see this as a positive report in the context of where we expected to be.
“As the government’s chief social worker said the other day, improvement like this takes time and tenacity.
“We have just started the third year of our improvement journey and remain on track in terms of significant progress made. We have solid foundations for continued improvement.
“While we are not complacent and there is still much to do, the areas for further improvement are known to us and we have ongoing plans for this – there are no surprises here.
“We now have well-motivated staff with manageable caseloads; our social workers know their children and listen to them. There is a coherent model and good staff development. We have skilled and experienced social workers who are doing their job well.
“Plans to move the service into a Trust are going well; the Trust will enable the service to have a single focus on improving practice and management oversight.
“Children’s services staff are working incredibly hard, and I’m incredibly proud of them. We all recognise we have a long way to go, and the inspection has provided value for us as a marker along this journey. We are not there yet, but by keeping up our determination and hard work we will get the service our children deserve.”
Andrew Christie said:
“It is a real honour to take on the role of chair of the proposed trust. Birmingham has made some real progress recently but the trust will be a real step change. It will add to the capacity of the leadership, bring a sharp focus to continuing to improve social work practice, and bring a real transformational change.”
Council leader Cllr John Clancy said:
“I am of course disappointed that the Ofsted classification for Birmingham children’ services remains ‘inadequate’ overall. However, as the report points out, there have been some significant improvements in a number of areas and the inspection found that the city council has a strengthened focus on providing the standard of services that our children deserve.
“Birmingham is by no means alone in facing immense challenges in this area. Some 70 per cent of local authorities have been found by Ofsted to have children’s services that are inadequate or require improvement. But that cannot be an excuse. We know we must do better, and we will improve.
“We have just started the third year of an improvement plan agreed with the Department for Education and it is clear that we are travelling in the right direction. In the Adoption Performance and Progress of Care Leavers categories, Birmingham is no longer classed as ‘inadequate’.
“I was elected council leader on a pledge that ‘every child matters’, and protection for children will always be at the very top of my agenda for Birmingham. To this end, I have been instrumental in pushing forward with plans to transfer the running of children’s services to a Children’s Trust, crucially negotiating cross-party agreement for this new venture.
“The formation of the Trust represents a unique opportunity to set Birmingham children’s services on a fresh course and to deliver the improvement that all of us want to see, and I am delighted that our former Commissioner for Children’s Social Care, Andrew Christie, has agreed to chair the Trust. Andrew is rightly regarded as one of the country’s leading experts on children’s social care and I know he will do a great job for Birmingham.”
The full report can be found here