Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Ofsted find Cornwall 'Inadequate'

Reading the latest Ofsted report, which finds that Cornwall's child protection services are 'inadequate', I was drawn to the statistics on pages 3 and 4. (http://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/NewsAttachments/PYC/Cornwall%20inspection%20report.pdf

There one can find out all sorts of things about Cornwall's children, and the authority's services for children, including the number of Gypsy and Traveller children living in the county, and the proportion of pupils whose first language is known or believed to be other than English (which is very low). 

Some data that I couldn't find in the report seemed to me to be much more important than this rambling statistical digest. Given that the report is highly critical of the services provided, I would have expected to have seen something about what are two key aspects of any operation - the demand for services and the capacity to meet it. 

Some crude figures such as the number of children referred in a given period and the number of social workers and support staff trying to meet this demand would have been a starting point. And it would have been useful to have information on vacancy, retention and sickness absence rates as well. The second part of the report - on services for looked after children - mentions low vacancy rates in this part of the work, but there is nothing to indicate what the staffing of child protection teams is like.

Among the first things any Operations Management student would look at in assessing a service operation are demand and capacity. But Ofsted doesn't really take a management perspective - despite banging on about 'leadership' and 'performance management'. Rather inspectors are rooted in a tradition of regulations, procedures and targets and equate the 'effectiveness of safeguarding' to how well services conform to what are, more often than not, arbitrary requirements.