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13 May 2018
‘Inadequate in too many cases’ – Croydon’s vulnerable children still at risk

The latest inspection of Croydon’s failing children’s services department has been branded as ‘inadequate in too many cases’ by Ofsted.

Eight months on from the news that Croydon’s Labour-run Council had failed its inspection for the first time, little progress appears to have been made according to a report published last week.

‘The impact on children still remains too variable and this is particularly relevant for vulnerable adolescents, where the risks are highest. The service for these children remains weak at this point of transition and development, with an urgent need for improved management oversight,’ writes Louise Hocking, Ofsted Inspector, in her letter to Croydon Council on 9th May 2018.

The inspector continues to be unimpressed by the supervision of the service, saying ‘management oversight is not sufficiently effective and there is not a visible presence of middle management to oversee the needs and services for this group of children.‘

The broad weaknesses mirror the themes found in the first monitoring visit. These include:

  • Lack of management direction and oversight
  • Lack of clarity in identifying the specific risks and clearly outlining what needs to happen to reduce risk.
  • Written plans are generally of a poor quality, and are brief and generalised without specifically identifying risks.
  • Written records are highly variable in quality and content.
  • Some concerns were specific to vulnerable adolescents, including some examples of inappropriate use of language or terminology that implied that children placed themselves at risk.
  • There was a lack of management escalation in some cases, for example to ensure that children’s circumstances were brought to the attention of the MASE panel. Given the risks faced by this group of children, oversight by team managers should have had high priority. However, although there were some exceptions, this oversight was generally insufficient.
  • Service manager involvement was not evident in case records.

Cllr Maria Gatland, Conservative Education spokesperson, said: “I am pleased that the quality of frontline staff has been recognised as I have seen how hard working and dedicated they are. However, the inspectors found the quality of service to vulnerable adolescents to be highly variable and in some cases remain inadequate.

“I am particularly concerned about the service for children who are missing and those at risk of sexual exploitation. Inspectors remain concerned about managerial oversight and report an urgent need for improved management oversight as well as staff turnover.”

Cllr Tim Pollard, Croydon Conservative Leader, comments: “While the dedication of Council staff cannot be questioned, it is clear that there are still some serious structural and managerial issues with social services.

“The Council has known for some time now that Croydon’s most vulnerable children are being put at risk, and it appears to be taking too long to act and when it does it’s not implementing the highest possible standards.

“It’s just not good enough, they need to get this right, and they need to get it right now.”

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