Facts concerning Haringey Council's Children's Services

Statement from Haringey Council May 2012

Haringey Council believes it is necessary to correct factually inaccurate information currently being reported online and via social media in order to reassure residents and people who work in Haringey that vulnerable children in the borough are being properly protected and education standards are a priority currently being addressed.

The council’s Children’s Services have significantly improved over the last two years.  A series of positive Ofsted inspections have culminated in the service being taken out of ‘special measures’ by the government in February this year.

Whilst we are pleased with this further recognition of our work to substantially improve safeguarding for children in Haringey, we are not complacent.  Our quest for improvements will not stop and we will always aspire to provide the very best safeguarding services.

The progress we have made so far is as a result of our commitment to shared learning, willingness to be challenged, continual improvement and developing strong and trusting partnerships.

A Director of Children’s Services has a statutory duty to brief the Cabinet Member for Children on safeguarding matters.  In Haringey the Director of Children’s Services also meets regularly with the Opposition Member for Children and briefs her on sensitive cases when appropriate.  The Opposition Member for Children was briefed by the Director of Children Services about the Family Z neglect report last week.

It was the council that brought Family Z to the attention of the Local Safeguarding Children Board who examined it in line with a new approach developed by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.  The Council fully supported the decision of the Independent Chair of its Local Safeguarding Children Board that the examination of this case was published. These are not the actions of a secretive council.  

Nevertheless this case happened when there were serious shortcomings in our children’s safeguarding services, and we apologise unreservedly for the past failures identified in this case.   

Contrary to the inference of some media reports, the council’s Children’s Services were in no way criticised in a recent child trafficking case. In fact staff from the service worked effectively to identify and carry out their safeguarding responsibilities. This exercising of professional judgement and tenacity is exactly what we want to see from our staff.

Haringey’s primary schools are improving and at a faster rate than the country as a whole. Last year 71 per cent of pupils got Level 4 or above in Key Stage 2 English and maths, a 5 per cent increase from 2008, far outstripping the 1 per cent increase nationally over the same time period.

And at GCSE level, grades improved for the eighth year running in 2011 so that the proportion of pupils attaining five or more A*-C grades including maths and English is now closer than ever to the national average.

Last year’s A-Level results are the best on record.

Our schools have achieved significant improvements which is welcomed. However we are not content with the pace of change which still leaves us frustratingly behind the national average in some areas.

This is why we have taken action and have tasked an independent education commission to help map out future schooling in the borough and recommend radical proposals to accelerate the pace of school improvement.

The education landscape is changing and the council’s role within it.  So too is the relationship between schools, the council and the local community.  

We will not stand still and wait for these changes to pass.  

The commission gives us an opportunity to start building a better future for our children now.  

Cllr Lorna Reith has given committed political leadership to the service throughout the last three challenging years; a fact which is appreciated by staff.