Cast your mind all the way back to 2015. Brexit was still a distant dream or nightmare depending on your view, and the country was looking vastly different with David Cameron still safely Prime Minister. Since then, pretty much everything has changed.
However, in Surrey, one sad failure has remained constant. 2015 was the year Surrey County Council was first rated Inadequate for over its provision of Children’s Services. Fast forward to 2022 and the services have finally improved, albeit to be rated as Requiring Improvement.
In one of the country’s wealthiest counties, how has it taken over seven years to take a step from Inadequate to just Requiring Improvement? And why is there so little interest and engagement from local politicians? This failure is sadly forgotten in much of political dialogue locally when it should be at the front and centre.
Below is a list of the areas which Ofsted classed as requiring improvement:
- the quality and effectiveness of assessments and plans for all children, including disabled children, homeless 16- and 17-year-olds and privately fostered children
- partnership work to secure support for children and young people’s mental health and well-being
- the provision of essential information to carers about children, and viability
assessments to inform placements with friends or family
- the sufficiency of suitable accommodation for young people, including care
- the quality and impact of supervision to ensure that decisions are timely and
support the progression of children’s plans
- the proportion of permanent staff, to reduce turnover.
These are not minor grumbles: a failure to plan properly or evaluate needs properly are serious failings. Not paying attention to the mental health of children is negligent. And if the quality of supervision is open to criticism, what problems are brewing because there is no pace or oversight?
It is a particualrly telling cruel example of the Conservative incompetence that has plagued Surrey Council ’s authoritues for years. Good provision of children’s services should be exemplary and a top priority, and in Surrey it clearly hasn’t been. We hope improvements can be quickly accelerated and that young people across Surrey begin to get access to improved services. Surrey’s younger generation cannot afford another seven years of slow progress.