Two of London’s most deprived boroughs are among ten local authorities to receive a top rating from the latest Ofsted report.
Lewisham and Tower Hamlets are both said to be providing “excellent” performance in children’s services provision, according to the education watchdog’s new annual children’s services rating.
Lewisham Councillor Robert Massey, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I think the focus on the outcomes drives people. Fundamentally, the children’s interests should be what drives the way services work.”
Ofsted sent a letter to each of the 152 local authorities with their overall assessment of children’s services in the borough. East London Lines were able to secure a copy of each letter.
Lewisham’s overall effectiveness of the majority of inspected services and settings is “good or better.” The report added that provision for children with learning difficulties was good overall.
“We are delighted to be part of an outstanding borough”
Alison Youd, executive head teacher of Watergate & Greenvale Schools federation, which both received outstanding Ofsted inspections, said: “We are delighted to be part of an outstanding borough, but we are definitely not complacent.
“We are constantly striving to make things better for children and young people with learning difficulties in Lewisham.”
Tower Hamlets received the same “excellent” rating, and were highly praised by the report. Its letter stated that “specialist provision and services for children and young people whose circumstances make them vulnerable is almost all good or outstanding.
“Nearly half of the special schools in the borough and services for looked after children, including the local authority’s fostering agency, are outstanding.”
Councillor Abdul Asad, lead member for children, schools and families at Tower Hamlets council said: “We work hard to give Tower Hamlets children and young people the best possible start in life, and this report shows that our hard work is paying off.”
Others not as successful
The remaining East London Lines boroughs did not perform as well, but both had broadly complimentary comments. Hackney were rated as performing “well” overall with the assessment letter noting that “a higher than average proportion of both secondary and sixth form schools is good or outstanding” and “nursery school provision is very good.”
Alan Wood, director of children and families for the borough, said: “We have made some strong progress in improving outcomes for children and young people in Hackney and we are happy that Ofsted has recognised the good work of all involved.”
Mr Wood however, made clear the borough was addressing the negative aspects of Ofsted’s evaluation of education services. “We are making good progress in improving the quality of primary provision in Hackney,” he said.
“In the 2008/09 academic year, 80 per cent of those schools inspected were found to be ‘good’ or better by Ofsted. We are working closely with our schools to ensure that this improvement continues.”
In planning for the future, Mr Wood said Hackney was looking to improve: “Our Children and Young People’s Strategic Plan 2008-11 sets out the partners’ priorities for children’s services,” he said. “We are confident that these will secure further improvements for children and young people in Hackney.”
Croydon performed the worst of the four boroughs with comments such as “performance across services is mixed” and “rates of permanent exclusion from schools are high by national and similar area standards” standing out as causes for concern.
Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people & learners said: “It is a fair reflection up until the end of the appraisal period, but we’ve been on an upward trajectory since.
“We had record GCSE results this summer and our social services department has been restructured and reorganised, so that will have a positive effect.”
He added: “We’ve got the capacity to improve and we expect to get a better score next year.”