Services with poor Ofsted ratings ‘caring for thousands of children’

13 Aug 19

Nearly two-thirds of looked after children are cared for by local authorities with substandard services, a think-tank has found.

A total of 48,723 – 65% of all looked after children in England – were relying on services that had been given adverse ratings by Ofsted in the year to April 2018, according to analysis by the Social Market Foundation.

This number has increased by 1,638 from 47,085 in 2017 while the overall number of looked after children has risen by 3.8%, hitting 75,420 in the year up to April 2018.

The lowest Ofsted rating of “inadequate” was afforded to services responsible for 11,606 children, the think-tank found.

Analysis by SMF also concluded the number of looked after children per 10,000 in England has risen from 60 in 2016 to 64 in 2018.

SMF warned that better care is needed because being in care is “strongly associated” with lifelong social and economic problems, with 42% of children in young offender institutions having previously been in care.

Only 17.5% of pupils who were looked after received A*-C in both English and mathematics GCSE compared to 60% of non-looked after children, the report said.

Matthew Oakley, SMF senior researcher, said: “These are the children who need the most support and the best care. Yet we are collectively content to give them inadequate support and care. This neglect is nothing less than shameful.

“We know that looked after children need better. We know that failing to properly support looked after children will help condemn them to a life of poverty and struggle or even worse. And yet the numbers of such children in failing services is actually rising. That is scandalous.”

Children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield called the findings “shocking”.

She added: “We might imagine from the news that potholes, street lights and bin collection are what councils are for but looking after these vulnerable children properly is one of their most important roles and government must make sure councils make it the best experience they possibly can, part of which is funding them property to do so.

“At the moment they aren’t and too often it isn’t.”

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