Vinney Green unit gets revamp after critical Ofsted report
A YOUNG offenders unit is making changes after being told it must improve by inspectors.
Vinney Green Secure Unit, in Emersons Green, provides care and education for up to 24 young offenders, aged between 10 and 18, and a report last year described residents as “amongst the most troubled and troublesome in the country”.
Education watchdog Ofsted visited Vinney Green in June and has told South Gloucestershire Council, which runs the unit, that it “requires improvement”.
Inspectors said management and leadership at the unit, where 144 assaults took place last year, was inadequate.
The report reserved its harshest criticism for Vinney Green’s management, describing it as inadequate.
The facility was criticised for its “high” use of restraint, locking children in their rooms “without good reason”, leaving some children to sleep on plastic mattresses, and rooms that were defaced with graffiti and toothpaste.
The report concluded: “The children’s home is not yet delivering good help and care for children and young people. However, there are no serious or widespread failures that result in their welfare not being safeguarded or promoted.”
Manager Alison Sykes told a council scrutiny commission on September 18 that the unit had begun making changes and was already seeing improvements.
She said the facility had faced numerous challenges in the past year, not least of which had been a heavily depleted senior management team.
Staff sickness, trouble recruiting staff, “not enough communal space” and the rising complexity of the needs of their “volatile” young residents had only compounded the difficulty of providing the £6 million-a-year service, Ms Sykes said.
Ofsted inspections had become noticeably “harder” and “more critical” since the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, she added, with ‘requires improvement’ ratings now “more commonplace rather than unusual”.
Building work is currently under way at the unit, off Emersons Green Lane.
A council spokesperson said: “We are undertaking an ongoing programme of work to upgrade and improve the ageing infrastructure at Vinney Green, which is funded by grants from the Department for Education. The work includes improvements to the dedicated educational and communal facilities for our residents as well as redecorating the bathroom facilities.
"The work will take place over the next couple of years, as it is important to note that the service will still be running throughout and we need to be mindful to minimise disruption to lives, education and care provided to the young people who live there.”