Ofsted praises ‘remarkable progress’ in Tower Hamlets

Ofsted has rated Tower Hamlets Council’s Children’s Service as ‘Good’, just two years after the service was given an ‘Inadequate’ rating.

After the council set an ambitious target of achieving the good rating following the previous inspection in 2017, the turnaround represents ‘remarkable progress’ and is, in part, the result of an improvement plan which was agreed by the Department for Education and overseen by an independently chaired improvement board.

In its latest report, Ofsted noted the ‘remarkable progress achieved since its inspection in 2017’, finding that children and families receive good help when they need it, especially those most vulnerable; that children in care and care leavers are also given the best chance in life to succeed; and that caseloads are manageable and staff are knowledgeable and supportive.

In December, Tower Hamlets launched a Social Work Academy to help tackle the shortage of social workers. It is the first programme of its type nationally to include a three-year newly qualified social worker programme. The academy has already contributed to improved retention of social workers. In June 2018 turnover stood at 33 per cent. By May 2019 it had reduced to below nine per cent. Social worker caseloads are also down.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I am delighted that Ofsted has given our Children’s Services a good rating. When I was first elected we inherited significant problems which we were working to fix. Ofsted’s inspection in 2017 highlighted just how necessary this work was and since then we have focused the council on transforming the way that we support vulnerable young people.

“It was really important that we owned the problems and from the start we set out to achieve a good rating. It has been extremely challenging to achieve this but children in Tower Hamlets deserved nothing less. I want to pay tribute to our staff and our partners who have been relentless in their focus to turn the service around. It has been a monumental effort to do it in just over two years.”

Danny Hassell, cabinet member for Children, Schools and Young People said: “We want to give every chance for every child to havethe best possible start in life. I am proud that Ofsted recognise we are doing the right things to ensure children and their families are both safe and supported.

“We have created the right environment for success, with a culture of high expectations and focus on performance. We are also fortunate to have these services delivered by amazing staff who go the extra mile every day for the children and families of our borough.”