Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Birmingham – are the responses ‘inadequate’ as well?

Birmingham Children’s Services, and other agencies engaged in child protection and safeguarding across Britain’s second city, are much troubled. Inadequate, inadequate, inadequate is the verdict of Ofsted and others who have tried to evaluate services. It’s a sad tale.

But after all that has been written and said, I’m still not clear why multiple failures have occurred in Birmingham and not elsewhere. To my mind all the reports do is list things that have gone wrong. They do not analyse why things have gone wrong and look at the underlying causes.

The latest report is from the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, the co-ordinating body that has itself been rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

The Board’s independent chair is reported in the Birmingham Mail as ‘listing’ (yes more listing) a variety of things that are wrong, and the Lead Member for Children’s Services (an elected local councillor) is quoted as saying that the report details issues that “… we are already aware of” and that “… we now know quite clearly what needs to be done”

To my mind this sort of mechanical approach to improvement – ‘x is wrong, don’t do x in future’ – is a denial. Obviously it can be painful, and it is certainly hard work, for people to look at the underlying causes, but unless that is done the problems will just re-emerge in another form on another day.