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Children left at risk of harm for too long – Ofsted reports

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman warns that vulnerable children are being left at risk of harm for too long.

Ofsted’s annual report found that nearly half of council children’s services require improvement, with vulnerable children who are at risk of harm or neglect no longer in teachers’ line of sight.

Spielman said in local areas with struggling children services that ‘there is a lack of focus on the risks to children and a failure to deliver timely, purposeful and effective help and protection.’

The report touches on long-standing pressure for care placements and alternative provisions, and some children attending this alternative provision becoming involved in criminal activity as well as being at risk for child sexual exploitation.

Due to the pandemic, children were being left in risky situations, and the report highlights that this extends to those children with special educational needs, with many having their support removed during the pandemic.

girl covering her face with both hands

Whilst some continued to fight for support, Spielman stresses that families are ‘exhausted’ that they cannot access essential services for their child. Ofsted has been trying to improve the special educational needs and disability provision for children for the last five years, with the latest data showing that 54% of local area special needs departments have been deemed not good enough.

Spielman also touches on the education health care plans which commit local authorities in law to providing support to children with higher needs, saying that it remains ‘weak in most areas.’

Ofsted has been working with the Care Quality Commission to inspect special educational needs and disability provision for the last five years.

The latest data shows 54% of local area special needs departments had written statements of action – meaning they were not good enough.

Ms Spielman added that the education health care plans which commit local authorities in law to provide support to children with higher needs remained ‘weak in most areas’.

The report comes after a recent case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, whose father and stepmother murdered him after torturing, humiliating, and neglecting him – with warnings over his safety ignored, as social services said there was ‘nothing to worry about’ just two months before he died.

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