Will Forster

Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Hoe Valley and County Councillor for Woking South Learn more

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Latest Ofsted review of Surrey’s Children’s Services

by willforster on 28 April, 2021

Last week, the news broke that the verdict of Ofsted’s most recent monitoring visit to Surrey County Council’s Children’s Services would not be published until after the election on Thursday 6th May.

The explanation for this from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills is that “it is normal practice to delay publication until after an election so as not to influence the result”.

However, the Lib Dems and I think that the outcome should be published before the election because the quality of public service should impact the outcome of the election. The Conservatives running Surrey County Council have an appalling record in terms of Children’s Services.  Back in 2008, the service was judged inadequate and told that it must improve.  It was judged to be inadequate again in 2014 and then again in 2018. 

It is clear from the reports by Ofsted and the Independent Children’s Commissioner that were published in January that things are improving.  However, many months on from that report and through the challenging circumstances of the pandemic the residents of Surrey deserve to be reassured that this progress has continued.

The work done by Children’s Services is crucial – when done effectively it protects vulnerable children from physical, emotional, and mental harm and helps struggling families.  When it is not, children and families are left at risk and it is our schools, the NHS and our communities that are left to pick up the pieces and the cost.

Local people need to know that Surrey’s Children’s Services are continuing to improve.  If they are then we can all agree that this is excellent news, but the report that is being kept under wraps provides that information.  We should not have to just accept the unsubstantiated words of the Tory Cabinet Member responsible when they say “verbal feedback confirmed that we’ve continued to progress”.

The public have a right to know before the election whether the Conservative leadership is running Children’s Services properly, cost-effectively, and protecting vulnerable children.  They have a right to be able to judge the Tory-run County Council based on this report.  That is exactly what elections are for and the Government is demonstrating a clear contempt towards both the people of Surrey and democracy itself by withholding the report.

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