THIS WEEK’S Ofsted report into child protection in Blackpool is almost as embarrassing for council leader Simon Blackburn as his infamous ‘Donkey Botherers’ jibe at local residents. The part time council leader – a registered social worker – was flapping this morning and almost lost for words as Radio Wave news editor Andy Mitchell woke up the Fylde Coast with the disgraceful Ofsted verdict.
A team of five inspectors arrived unannounced to run the rule at the end of June 2012, and they left far from impressed.
‘Inadequate’ is the worst possible grading from Ofsted, and the Labour controlled council received this grading for every aspect of their child protection provision, notably leadership, effectiveness and quality. Under the Conservatives, the council was rated ‘satisfactory’, but one should be under no illusions that this means it was a lot better than it is now.
Some commenters on Twitter and on the Gasjet have immediately jumped onto the lack of funding bandwagon, perhaps in order to try and shift some blame away from ‘Two Jobs’ Blackburn onto the government due to the austerity package that was handed down to the council after Labour ruined the British economy.
— Freyja Walker (@freyjawalker) July 13, 2012
— Steve Haskett (@stevehaskett78) July 13, 2012
There is no lack of funding. This report makes no mention of a lack of money, in fact it states that child protection staff are protected from austerity measures. It states that there is a ‘stable workforce’, so morale should not be a problem.
Whilst proper procedure, policy and protocol are in place at the council, the Ofsted report claims that it is not being followed. Managers at Progress House bear the brunt of the tongue lashing; their poor performance and failure to follow proper procedure is highlighted again and again.
Further to this, the Director of Children’s Services and Council Leader were both slated for not turning up to meetings of the Blackpool Safeguarding of Children Board (BSCB).
Blackburn said: “What I did attend were monthly meetings of all councillors and directors involved in what was the children’s and adults and families department”.
Performance management is slammed as dire and in some cases where poor performance has been highlighted, managers have not even bothered to fill in the form stating what action they are going to take to correct it.
More money isn’t the answer to these problems.
Simon Blackburn said to the Gasjet that staff at the children’s services department work “incredibly hard”.
Not hard enough.
The report is available here.