15 Jan 2013 Last updated at 00:00

Isle of Wight Council Statement - Inspection of Local Authority Arrangements for the Protection of Children

Joint statement from the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education Cllr Dawn Cousins and Ian Anderson, Director of Community Wellbeing and Social Care.

“The council accepts the findings of the inspection report and is taking these extremely seriously.  We recognise that failings have been identified and fully agree that this is not acceptable.  We are determined to investigate and resolve these and to ensure that the high standards of social work practice rightly expected are delivered by this authority.

“At the same time, we want to reassure the Island community that as a result of our investigations following the inspection we have confirmed that the main areas of concern about social work practice were limited to the performance of a small number of staff in a specific area of the service and we have acted promptly in taking action in relation to those employees.

“The vast majority of our staff are hard-working, committed individuals with the interests of children and young people at the heart of everything they do – a fact that was recognised within the report - and we know that they are as disappointed as we are with the findings of this inspection and are committed to addressing the shortcomings identified.

“We recognise however that we all need to take responsibility for improving the care and protection of young people on the Island; from strengthening our leadership and governance arrangements, to ensuring all agencies challenge each other effectively and that we address the quality and robustness of the systems and practice that we have in place, particularly those relating to assessments and planning.  

“We know we are not alone in receiving this judgement following this much more rigorous new inspection regime from Ofsted, however we welcome the thoroughness of this process and its ability to shed light on issues that might have otherwise been harder to identify.

“In response to the inspection outcomes, as well as dealing with immediate staffing issues we have already:

-          appointed an interim senior qualified and experienced social work manager, with immediate effect, to work closely with the Deputy Director to examine and strengthen social work practice and management across Children’s social care services

-          undertaken a thorough review of 700 cases that were referred to us over the last four months and where a decision was made that no further action was required.  This work, undertaken by staff who were not involved in the original case decisions, has now been completed and it is reassuring that in most of these cases the decisions made were sound.  Where issues have been identified, the appropriate course of action has been taken to ensure that no child is at risk of harm or abuse.

“We are also continuing the work we had started before the inspection to address the structure and work of the local safeguarding children’s board (LSCB), working closely with the new chair and partner organisations, to ensure its effectiveness in providing oversight and leadership to all aspects of safeguarding vulnerable children and young people.

“We are pleased that some aspects of the council’s work in this area have been praised within the report; in particular the work to provide early help to children, young people and their families and especially that support provided by children’s centres and schools, our work with children and young people with disabilities and their families and our support for vulnerable teenagers. 

"We are also pleased that our efforts to embed a new nationally recognised best practice model of organising social work teams has been acknowledged along with our success in reducing social worker vacancies and delivering a comprehensive learning and development programme. These are key building blocks in helping us strengthen the quality of social work on the Island.

“The safeguarding of children and young people on the Island and the support to their families is, and will continue to be, a key priority to both members and officers of this council and we continue to support that with the investment of more funding, as proposed in our recent budget report to Cabinet.”
Statement from Ruby Parry, Interim Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board,

“It is important as partners working to protect and safeguard children that we all accept and act on the findings of this report.  The council had already recognised that the Board was struggling to be effective, particularly in terms of other agency engagement, and I was recruited specifically to address this. As part of my work with the Board we had already identified many of the challenges highlighted by Ofsted and have put in place the building blocks for the Board to meet its statutory responsibilities.

"This is recognised in their report. Board development is at an early stage, but we have already started to develop quality assurance processes that will enable us to monitor the quality of future practice and the outcomes for children, and therefore to provide appropriate challenge and support to the improvement plan.  The director has given me assurances that the Board and I will be fully supported and resourced to make the improvements required of us. 

" In my independent role, as interim chair, I fully intend to ensure that all agencies understand their responsibilities to deliver these improvements and work more effectively to safeguard children on the Island.”

Isle of Wight Council
Isle of Wight Council
  • The Isle of Wight has approximately 26,258 children and young people. The 0-17 population accounts for around 19% of the Island's population.
Isle of Wight