Officials to discuss Southend children’s services, after second critical Ofsted report

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SOUTHEND officials will debate next week how to improve their children’s services, after Ofsted rated them ‘requires improvement’ for the second time in a row.

The borough’s Education Board will meet at the Tickfield Centre next Tuesday October 22, where agenda items will include the official response to July’s inspection.

The last inspection, in 2016, had also resulted in a rating of ‘requires improvement’.

Ofsted has four grades: inadequate, requires improvement, good and outstanding.

In a report, to be discussed at next week’s meeting, Southend Council wrote of its recent inspection:

“It is a wide grade judgement, ranging from close to inadequate to on the cusp of good.

“We have much that is good and want to improve further, for better outcomes for our children.”
Inspectors found improvements, saying senior leaders had made ‘significant progress in some areas’.

In 2016, Ofsted found the service required improvement in 12 areas. In 2019, the body found it required improvement in four.

Areas which were praised in the 2019 inspection included adoption services and safeguarding for children who were missing education or home-schooled.

But, Ofsted added: “There is more work to do.”

It called for improvements in the leadership of children’s services, saying services for ‘children in need of help and protection’ were not up to par, and nor were services for ‘looked after children and care leavers’.

It specifically highlighted oversight by managed and leaders as requiring improvement, as well as the oversight and challenge from those who chair child protection conferences and care reviews.

The issue will be discussed at the Education Board meeting next Tuesday at 8.15pm.

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Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]