Ofsted report on Hassockfield STC
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am very sceptical of the quality of Ofsted inspections of the secure training centres. They tend to be superficial and all too flattering. But the report just published by Ofsted on Hassockfield STC is damning. The inspection found that the protection of children from harm or neglect and helping them to stay safe was inadequate.
This child jail, run for profit, has been given the lowest rating possible and the вЂњinadequateвЂќ ranking on safeguarding means that the children in this privately run jail are seriously at risk.
This is the jail where 14 year old Adam Rickwood hanged himself.
I have been told that the youth justice board, the commissioning body that puts children in this child jail, failed to alert the local authorities who also place children there when they are remanded to their care by the courts. Local authorities put children in STCs as a place of safety, but if they are not safe; the children could be removed and placed elsewhere, seriously impacting on the income of the STCs and thereby its profits. So was the youth justice board colluding with Serco, the company running Hassockfield, to hide the damning inspection report for as long as possible? The time honoured trick following critical inspections is for the authorities to say that this happened weeks ago and that they have dealt with the problem.
The Howard League lawyers have represented a child detained in Hassockfield who had his wrist broken during a physical restraint by staff. The company had to pay four figure compensation. So whilst Ofsted is critical of safety in this report, the inspectors are still addictively flattering and superficial in their assessments. Our evidence is that below the surface seen by Ofsted, things may be even worse.
The report says that only seven children gained an average of three GCSEs last year, three quarters of which were in low grades, yet this is held up to be a huge success! As a qualified and experienced special school teacher and someone who taught adult literacy in inner city Liverpool, I can tell them that is a poor outcome.
There is the question of whether the youth justice board and Ofsted should inform parents that their children are detained in an institution that has been deemed unsafe. Once a child has been placed in custody the rights of parents are effectively destroyed and as we return children to families, often having experienced real damage whilst in custody, it is bizarre that parents are cut out of the picture and absolved of responsibility.
There are now key questions for the government, for parents and for the local authority:
- Why are children still being placed in Hassockfield when it has deemed to be unsafe?
- Why is Ofsted supine in its dealings with the STCs, desperately putting a positive gloss on any glimmer of good work with the children?
- SERCO has a poor record of safeguarding children at YarlвЂ™s Wood Immigration Centre and now at Hassockfield, so will the company now be prohibited from bidding to run any facility involving children?
- Has the company been fined?
- Were the parents informed of the inspection findings?
- What action has the local authority taken to safeguard the children?
- The taxpayer is paying between ВЈ6 million and ВЈ8 million a year to Serco to run Hassockfield вЂ“ does the government think we are getting good value for money?