Twelve councils' child services rated poor

9 Dec 10
Children’s services at 12 councils in England have been rated as poor by Ofsted inspectors

By Vivienne Russell

9 December 2010

Children’s services at 12 councils in England have been rated as poor by Ofsted inspectors.

Ofsted head Christine Gilbert said the authorities had been put in the poor category primarily because they were found to have weak child protection services.

She said: ‘Inadequacies have been identified in their approach to safeguarding children. These authorities know where improvements are needed and have plans in place to improve. There is much they can learn from the example of those authorities who are performing well and excellently.’

The councils rated poor were: Birmingham, Calderdale, Doncaster, Essex, Kent, Leeds, Nottinghamshire, Peterborough, Salford, Sandwell, Torbay and Worcestershire.

A spokesman for Kent County Council told Public Finance that it had been a ‘challenging year’ for children’s social services with a 22% increase in referrals, while the vacancy rate for children’s social work staff stood at 26% in January. Although changes to the department had been made, Ofsted inspectors found in October that these had not yet bedded in, he said.

Chris Pratt, director of children’s and young people at Doncaster Council said Ofsted was right to find that more needed to be done to make the authority’s children’s services consistently good enough.

‘Ofsted, however, recognise that improvements have been made in education, safeguarding, fostering, adoption and care leavers, and in strengthening social work and management capacity,’ Pratt said.

‘Importantly, Ofsted says in its report that prospects for the future looked more promising than they had done for a while and the new leadership team is open, honest and realistic about the work ahead.’

The annual children’s services assessments also revealed that 37 councils are providing adequate services, 77 are performing well and 20 are rated as excellent.

Gilbert said it was ‘pleasing’ to see that the number of councils providing excellent services had doubled.

‘In these very best authorities the expectations are high and the large majority of services are good or outstanding,’ she said.

‘Children and young people generally receive a consistently high level of support from the time they start in nurseries or childcare, through the school and as they enter further education, training or employments. It is also the case that these authorities are well organised to keep children safe from harm – in particular, those children who are most at risk.’

Ratings for six authorities are not being published today because further inspections are due to take place. These authorities are: Suffolk, West Sussex, Cheshire West, Haringey, Warrington and Cornwall.

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