Commissioner 'no longer required' at improving council


Provision at a children's services department previously found to be leaving children at risk is improving and oversight by a government-appointed commissioner is no longer necessary, it has been announced.

Wakefield Council's children's services provision was rated "inadequate" in 2018. Picture: Wakefield Council
Wakefield Council's children's services provision was rated "inadequate" in 2018. Picture: Wakefield Council

Wakefield Council said the latest report by a commissioner appointed after children's services were rated "inadequate" in 2018, found the local authority is continuing to make improvements to its services for children and young people and the government has approved a recommendation that no further review visits will be required.

Issues emerged at Wakefield Council following a focused visit conducted by Ofsted in 2018, which warned of children being left at risk due to staffing problems and poor management oversight.

This prompted a full inspection three months later, which found provision at the local authority to be "inadequate".

The council was allowed to retain control of the delivery of children’s social care services subject to a six-month and 12-month review of progress.

Wakefield Council said Peter Dwyer's 12-month review, which is yet to be officially published, highlights “considerable confidence” in the council’s ability to receive more positive inspection outcomes in the future.

It said the report praises the council’s leadership in driving forward "relentlessly ambitious" improvements and highlights that “important progress has been made in enhancing the tools, skills and resources consistently available within and to the workforce to address the challenges families are experiencing". 

The Department for Education (DfE) will continue to monitor and support the council and regular Ofsted monitoring visits will continue, but Wakefield Council said government has "officially approved that no further direct engagement of an appointed commissioner is needed".

Wakefield Council’s director of children's services, Beate Wagner, said: “The government’s decision is testament to the confidence in our improvement to date and the plans in place for continued and sustainable transformation to our services.

“Inspectors have seen recruitment into roles, strong governance being established and significant financial investment at the frontline. But there is still more work to be done and we are continuing in our systematic and staged approach to ensure that services continue to improve.” 

Margaret Isherwood, lead member for children and young people at Wakefield Council, said: “This decision by the government demonstrates their recognition of the vast improvements already made and the strong plans in place for further improvement.

“The commissioner’s invaluable support and feedback has been key to our transformation journey, helping to reinforce where we need to focus. The recognition that the oversight by a commissioner is no longer required, gives further confidence that we are on track and moving at a sustainable pace.

“Children and young people will continue to be at the heart of everything we do as we continue to progress and plan for the future.” 

Meanwhile, a report on the future of children's services in Medway, which was rated "inadequate" last year, recommends that the council secures improvement partners to provide support on leadership, practice and frontline service delivery issues.

The commissioner for children's services in Medway, Eleanor Brazil, said the council should be given six months to see whether the support has had the intended impact, and a decision made on whether the council should continue to retain operational control of provision.

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