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Vulnerable children in West Berkshire at risk of harm - damning Ofsted report reveals 'serious failures'

Inspectors rate district council's children's services as 'inadequate'

Dan Cooper

Reporter:

Dan Cooper

Contact:

01635 886632

West Berks Council Office logo_sz

SOME of the district's most vulnerable children are at risk of harm because of 'serious failures' from West Berkshire Council, an Ofsted report has warned.

The damning report says that leadership in the department "required improvement", while there were also concerns over the high level of staff turnover and "over-reliance" on agency staff.

The report, published following an inspection in March, said: "There are widespread and serious concerns about the protection and assessment of children who are most vulnerable to harm," adding that the pace of change since the last inspection has been "too slow".

The council were rated "inadequate" in looking after children who need help and protection.

It was also deemed to require improvement in other key areas including children looked after and achieving permanence, adoption performance, experiences and progress of care leavers and leadership, management and governance.

The report goes on to say: "The local authority does not have a stable workforce. A significant proportion of social workers and managers in key social work teams are agency staff and
turnover is high. This has resulted in children experiencing unacceptable disruption, uncertainty and inconsistency.

"Instability, staff turnover and a high proportion of agency staff in key social work teams has become a significant challenge for West Berkshire, particularly over the past 12 months."

It added that while the characteristics of good leadership are not in place, failures have been identified by the local authority and were being "effectively
addressed".

For the full story, see this week's Newbury Weekly News, out on Thursday.

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