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Letter: County Council Wanted Children’s Ofsted Letter Published

Published on: 26 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 26 Apr, 2021

Cllr Mary Lewis

From: Mary Lewis

Conservative county councillor for Cobham and lead member for Children

You carried a good, detailed article from Julie Armstrong, recording the various stages in the improvement journey at SCC in Children’s Services, but serious misunderstanding or misjudgement from Cllr Fiona White in claiming SCC Tories are holding up the report.

We’d love to have the focused visit letter published because the lack of any report since January 2020’s fantastic news from the Children’s Commissioner has been frustrating.

Verbal feedback from Ofsted confirmed that the council had done well in responding quickly to the pandemic and in keeping children safe. Continued improvement was also noted, in spite of Covid and the sad death of our director.

But we still have more to do, as we noted ourselves in our self-assessment, which they agreed with. We know we’d like to do more with health, adult social care and education and assign colleagues to help children with lifelong disabilities and that will be a continued focus for us, as we’d stated in that self-assessment.

Recruitment and retention is a big issue as well, since there is a national shortage of social workers.

Even authorities graded as “Outstanding” have improvements to make and it is a foolish person who claims everything is perfect in a complex network of services delivered by partners.

Honesty and openness in these things is always the best policy and, as Cllr White knows, these have been a feature of our response since the 2018 report.

If she missed it, she and Dragon readers can listen back to all the updates I have given in the past few years at cabinet and full council. The timetable for publishing Ofsted focused visit letters is also available on the government website under Inspecting Local Authority Children’s Services.

Perhaps, now armed with all this information, Cllr White might like to retract her comments?

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