Ofsted carries out virtual monitoring visit on ‘frequent cannabis use’ children’s home

Suffolk County Council has made progress at its 'inadequate' children's home where freuent cannabis

Suffolk County Council has made progress at its 'inadequate' children's home where freuent cannabis use was reported, according to Ofsted. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Ofsted inspectors have carried out a virtual monitoring visit on a struggling children’s home where frequent cannabis use was reported.

Conservative cabinet member for education Mary Evans paid tribute to the dedication of staff for mak

Conservative cabinet member for education Mary Evans paid tribute to the dedication of staff for making improvements. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The virtual ‘visit’ carried out on April 1 was the first monitoring visit since the home was given an ‘inadequate’ rating following an inspection in February, with inspectors confident that progress has been made.

MORE: Frequent cannabis use discovered at ‘inadequate’ children’s homeThe home, which cares for teenagers who have suffered neglect, trauma or abuse cannot be named for legal reasons, but is run by Suffolk County Council.

The previous report found that the children “frequently use cannabis” and highlighted instances where one had not been given their medication for two months and another when an intoxicated youngster was found dangling from a first floor window.

The council at the time said standards were not good enough and had implemented a rapid action plan, with inspectors stating that “progress against requirements has been met”.

It said that bullying instances had reduced and “staff have successfully reduced children’s substance misuse”.

The latest report continued: “The manager and staff team have improved the group dynamics. This is despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 in getting the children to practise social distancing,” concluding that “there are noted improvements in the quality of care provided and the children are safer”.

The virtual inspection is understood to be one of the first in the county carried out online, as coronavirus lockdown means inspections of schools are more difficult. Many schools are closed entirely, and those open are only educating pupils of key workers.

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Councillor Mary Evans, Conservative cabinet member for education said: “I am pleased that Ofsted has recognised the significant improvements that have been made at this children’s home.

“As I explained when the report was published, we rapidly implemented an action plan to address the concerns raised in the report. This work continues through lockdown.

“Some elements of the action plan, such as building works, are stalled at the moment because of social distancing rules. However, SCC staff are working hard on making improvements to this home and have individually reviewed the care plans of every child living there.

“There is nothing more important than ensuring children in our care are kept safe and well. I would like to thank officers and staff at the home for their dedication to the children, without their hard work we would not have been able to make such substantial improvements so quickly.

MORE: Labour calls for review of children’s homes amid safeguarding fears“I do however recognise that there is still work to be done. I will continue to monitor progress closely and will review the delivery of the action plan regularly with the senior officer team.”

The previous report raised concerns from the council’s opposition Labour group, which called for a review of children’s homes amid fears there were systemic issues, however Mrs Evans said the council was “absolutely a fit corporate parent”.

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