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Council praised for response to critical Children's Services report

Government minister says district council is making good progress

Dan Cooper

Reporter:

Dan Cooper

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01635 886632

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A GOVERNMENT minister has said that West Berkshire Council is making good progress in improving its Children and Family Service following a highly critical Ofsted report.

In a damning report last May, Ofsted inspectors found that some of the district’s most vulnerable children were being put at risk of harm due to ‘serious failures’ by the council.

The report added that the service was ‘inadequate’ and found that leadership ‘required improvement’, while there were also concerns over the high level of staff turn over and an ‘over-reliance’ on agency staff.

Last month officials from the Department for Education visited the council to review progress one year on from the report.

And in a subsequent letter to the council, Edward Timpson MP, the Minister of State for Children and Families, confirmed that good progress has been made, that senior managers have responded positively to the challenge and are putting in place the strategies required to support system-wide improvements.

Welcoming the letter, Rachael Wardell, the council’s director of communities, said: "We fully accepted Ofsted's recommendations, and over the past year we have implemented them all, working really hard to improve the support we provide to the children and families who need our help.

“I'm pleased that the good progress we have made has been acknowledged. This will spur us on as we strive to provide an excellent service to children, young people and their families, and to achieve an improved rating at our next inspection."

In his letter Mr Timpson also encouraged the council to maintain its hard work, to continue improving the quality of its casework, and to maintain a focus in order to build upon the gains already made. 

Ms Wardell added: "We've made some good progress but we know we need to do more for our services to be "good" or "outstanding".

"In order to help us improve further, we have commissioned the Local Government Association to conduct a peer review of the service. This is likely to take place during the summer ‎and we look forward to working with them to help measure our improvement and any further areas for development."

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