It is really disappointing and disturbing to read this damming Ofsted report.
I have been working in the London Borough of Barnet for 22 years.
I have a long history of knowledge of our social services.
Back in 2008 our Council celebrated being a five star Council. They actually hung the stars from the high ceiling in our Atrium (posh for staff canteen).
At this time we did not have any serious issues in social work. Barnet had a good reputation for social work and had no reliance on agency workers.
In May 2008 something changed.
The Council announced a major policy change called Future Shape later to be known as “easyCouncil” then “One Barnet” and finally “Commissioning Council.”
Barnet UNISON quickly recognised this change as mass outsourcing ideology.
Barnet UNISON has written much on what has transpired over almost a decade of ideological obsession with mass outsourcing.
For this press release it is not the outsourced contractors that we are focussing on, but the impact on those remaining Council services, in this case Family Services.
Over the past decade to ensure delivery of the outsourcing programme the senior management had to change.
I watched as managers who were good at delivery were replaced by strategic managers. Often they were replaced by interims who would later become permanent. The Council then looked to consultants to prepare services for outsourcing. This led some to argue the Council was becoming “consultant dependent.”
Corporate knowledge was not seen as a positive.
What has happened in Family Services is, in my opinion, a long time coming.
This is why I would say to those looking for heads to roll, to reflect on those architects that have long since left.
Where is the accountability for those who have left and those who took their eye off the ball?
What needs to happen now? Barnet UNISON has already begun discussions with our members in Family Services and the Council.
We want to make Barnet a safe place to work which will translate into better services for children.
This means a change and recognition that staff and UNISON need to be fully involved in changes in Family Services.
There must be no repeat of past mistakes.
Barnet Council must listen to the workforce and their representatives.
The life of the child must and always be at the heart of Family Services.
To achieve this you need a highly motivated skilled workforce that is well supported.
The next 12 months are going to be critical and Barnet UNISON is going to make sure we are there for our members and those children who need Family Services.”
(John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON).
1. OFSTED inspection findings
2. Inspectors rap ‘inadequate’ Barnet Council children’s services
3. Barnet children’s services condemned as inadequate by Ofsted: ‘Serious failings put young at risk of harm’