Following an inspection in July of the council’s children services department, today’s Ofsted report stated, “Inspectors identified a legacy of poor practice characterised by drift and delay in the provision of key services. Weak managerial oversight at all levels has not ensured that basic social work practice is of a good enough standard. Children do not receive robust and timely responses to ensure that risk is reduced and their needs are met.”
Despite her role as the borough’s most senior official, Negrini has made no public comment since the report’s publication.
But in internal council memos seen by Inside Croydon, she said that the Ofsted report, “is hugely disappointing for all concerned but we fully accept the findings and the improvements needed. It is clear that services for children have not been very good for a very long time and this is unacceptable.
“However I want to reassure you that I am committed to ensuring that this council is delivering good children’s services as quickly as possible.
“To that end we have already invested further funding to help support and modernise working practices for all its social workers and frontline staff.
“An extra social work team has been created to reduce workloads, a new social care director appointed and a recruitment drive [conducted] to bring in more social workers.
“We have set up an improvement board with an independent chair, and are working on an action plan with Ofsted to drive through the changes we need to make.”
Similar Ofsted inspections in three other south London boroughs – Lambeth, Wandsworth and Bromley – carried out in the past 18 months have produced similarly dire reports on the state of their social services departments. Negrini says that her council has been liaising with them on how to bring about improvements.
“There is much to do but I am confident that we are now on the right track to get things done,” Negrini wrote, just hours before the DfE ordered that an independent commissioner should take one of her own council’s departments out of her hand, such is the concern for the hundreds of vulnerable children.
In another memo sent around the council offices by Negrini, she said that the Ofsted report “highlighted that there are some things that we, as a council, don’t do well”. Which is an early entrant for this week’s NSS* award.
Negrini has been council CEO for just over a year, having joined Croydon as the head of the borough’s planning and development department. In her memo today, she added what she must consider to be a rally call to her staff: “I would like us to use this time as an opportunity to reflect on our organisation as a whole, not only looking at our services to children but at everything we do.
“We have some very talented people working here and it is important that we all pull together so that we can be sure we are delivering good quality services across the board, for all our residents.”
There was no suggestion in Negrini’s memos of any apology or acceptance of responsibility for the children’s services failings.
And after Negrini issued her “all pull together” message, the council’s press office issued a statement in which one of the CEO’s underlings was wheeled out to acknowledge the failures and provide what passes for an apology on behalf of Negrini’s council.
Because that’s what “all pull together” means for Jo Negrini.
*NSS = no shit, Sherlock.
- Damning verdict on Croydon’s ‘inadequate’ children’s services
- Commissioner appointed to oversee children’s services
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