Praise for Leeds child services turnaround

Nigel Richardson, director of Leeds children's services.
Nigel Richardson, director of Leeds children's services.
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INSPECTORS have hailed as “remarkable and impressive” improvements to Leeds children’s services which just over a year ago were branded as inadequate.

Ofsted inspectors, who last month made an unannounced inspection, found that services had made considerable progress since concerns were raised in 2009, when it was found council failures were putting vulnerable children at risk.

An independently-chaired improvement board reporting to ministers was established to oversee changes. Children’s services have since been restructured and a new director appointed.

The latest inspection looked at the quality and effectiveness of “contact, referral and assessment arrangements and their impact on minimising any child abuse and neglect”.

During their visit, inspectors spoke to a range of staff and considered evidence including electronic case records, supervision files and notes and observation of social workers undertaking assessments and referrals.

Their report notes that senior managers provide strong leadership which has “resulted in the remarkable and impressive improvement in the quality of services inspected and the safety of children in the city”.

The report highlights that the improvement board has delivered “swift and sustainable progress through a robust improvement plan”.

It also identifies a number of areas for development including an inadequate electronic social care record system. The council has agreed to introduce a new IT system.

Coun Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services, said: “I am delighted with this report which shows just how far we have come and that the changes we have put in place really are making a huge difference to the well-being and safety of children in Leeds,”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, said: “Our staff have worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances over the past 18 months to implement improvements to keep children and young people in Leeds safe from the risk of serious harm. This inspection report, together with the recent positive reports on adoption, fostering and the youth offending service, give us the confidence and assurance that we are moving in the right direction.”

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