Naming and shaming of children's services is unfair, claims council

11th December 2009 at 00:00

The "unfair" naming and shaming of the worst services for children in England does not take into account recent improvements, officials at one of the country's largest councils has said.

Birmingham is among nine local authorities rated poor by Ofsted. The others are: Cornwall, Doncaster, Essex, Haringey, Leeds, Rotherham, Warrington and Wokingham.

Children's services ratings were published for the first time this week and show performance in safeguarding, childcare, schools and social care. About two-thirds, or 103 out of 152 councils, provide excellent or good services for children and young people, with 40 offering adequate services.

The nine local authorities have mainly received a poor rating because of problems with safeguarding arrangements.

Birmingham City Council has been praised for making progress by children's minister Dawn Primarolo and Ofsted's own inspection team, which made an unannounced visit last month.

Les Lawrence, cabinet member for children, said: "We believe this is unfair. We have not had a full inspection in 2009 and this fails to take account of the tremendous strides we have made in the past year. It seems to be more a product of Ofsted's new way of assessing services than a balanced reflection of the successes and challenges we face in Birmingham."

Chief inspector Christine Gilbert said the new rating meant "raised expectations" from Ofsted.

"Those which are good should be inspired to excellence, and those which are satisfactory should look for best practice to accelerate improvement. The small number of poorly-performing authorities must renew their determination to improve, in the knowledge that it is both possible and necessary," she said.

In total 10 councils, or 7 per cent, have excellent ratings: Blackburn with Darwen; Camden; City of London; Kensington and Chelsea; Kingston-upon-Thames; Lewisham; Richmond-upon Thames; Tower Hamlets; Wandsworth; and York. About 93, or 61 per cent, are performing well, 40, or 25 per cent, adequately and 9, or 6 per cent, poorly.

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