Southwark Council’s children’s services are 'good' according to latest Ofsted report

14 June 2017

Southwark Council’s services for children and families are “good”, says an Ofsted report published today. This puts Southwark in the top 28% of the 146 local authorities inspected so far. It is a great achievement for a borough facing a huge range of challenges in keeping young people safe, including female genital mutilation and child sexual exploitation.

Ofsted was particularly impressed with the council’s adoption services which they found to be “outstanding” with well-trained social workers credited for supporting and preparing children for adoption, while prospective adopters are said to benefit from rigorous assessment, high-quality training and post-adoption support.

Cllr Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: ““I am delighted to see recognition of the monumental efforts of our social workers, foster carers, adopters, and all of those who work tirelessly for the protection, and the future of the borough’s most vulnerable young people. We all have a part to play in being ambitious for children and this report makes clear the commitment and leadership in Southwark to ensure every child is protected from harm and every young person is set on the path to achievement, fulfilment and happiness.”

Ofsted particularly commends the council’s strong work at helping young people who face particular difficulties, such as those at the risk of:

  • female genital mutilation
  • honour-based violence
  • child sexual exploitation
  • involvement with gangs and knife crime
  • homelessness

The council’s work addressing female genital mutilation is described as “particularly strong”. They praise sensitive community engagement with at-risk communities and social workers addressing cultural sensitivities carefully, while remaining risk and child focused.

Inspectors reported seeing examples of “high-quality” work with young people facing risks from gangs. Ofsted said this enabled the young people to powerfully describe their experiences and produce effective interventions to lower risks.

The report also made clear the strong culture of ensuring children and young people are at the heart of all services. Inspectors said that young people consistently told them that they feel valued and respected at regular forums, which encourage them to put forward their ideas. They described this ingrained participation as “a real strength in the local authority”.

The report says the council’s work with the youth offending service’s gangs team, a child sexual exploitation police team and others, helps to the identify children at risk of sexual exploitation and leads to prevention, support and disruption of perpetrators. 

The council was also praised for strong, passionate and committed political leadership and its ambition for vulnerable children. Senior managers were recognised for their work to accelerate change and improvement. The report makes clear the strength of the engagement across health, schools, the voluntary sector and all the many agencies that work in partnership to keep children safe in Southwark.

The council’s work with looked after children does still require improvements. However, the report said that: “Managers and local politicians are very determined to continue to improve those services that are not yet good, and they have effective plans to do this.”

Last updated: 14 June 2017