Inspectors praise progress of 'inadequate' children's services trust

Doncaster Children's Trust Chief Executive Paul Moffat.
Doncaster Children's Trust Chief Executive Paul Moffat.
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A children’s services trust that was set up to tackle the ‘historic failures’ of a Yorkshire council has been told it is making “significant progress” by education inspectors after it was itself deemed ‘inadequate’.

The trust was set up two years ago after Doncaster Council was stripped of its children’s services in 2013 following the Government’s decision that the authority was responsible for a ‘legacy of failure’.

The Government began supervising children’s services in 2009 following the deaths of seven children in the borough through abuse or neglect over five years.

However, Ofsted inspectors published a report to say the trust was ‘inadequate’ for the services it provides to children who need “help and protection”.

Now, less than 18 months later the trust has overhauled its practices and has achieved a glowing review in its latest monitoring inspection, with inspectors concluding that “significant and continuing progress” had been made.

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust chief executive Paul Moffat said: “We are not going to rest on our laurels. We know we have still got a lot of work to do.

“However, we are delighted the inspectors have recognised the progress we have made to improve the services for children in need of help and protection.

“They identified many areas of strength and found that significant progress had been made in all areas that were previously highlighted as requiring improvement in the last inspection.”

The report praised the contributions to the trust made by young people in Doncaster and commended the “impressive and well-supported” Children in Care Council (CiCC), which inspectors said had developed into an effective and influential group, both locally and nationally. The development of a “stable, well-supported and permanent workforce” was also applauded, along with its overall improvement in the quality of services.

The inspectors wrote: “Significant and continuing progress is evident in terms of the quality of services for children looked after since the single inspection. Thorough actions have been taken in response to the recommendations and have had a positive impact. Children and young people are at the heart of the strategic planning and operational work. In casework seen, the outcomes of the children who are looked after are improving and good.”

Mr Moffat said the next step was to achieve a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted at the next full inspection in autumn following its fourth and final monitoring visit in June. He said: “If we can achieve ‘good’ by autumn that would be a huge improvement in a short period of time in Doncaster. That would be a massive achievement.

“The trust wants to become an ‘outstanding’ organisation by 2019. We have aspirations to be one of the best in the country.”

Meanwhile, local Government Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday confirmed more powers will be returned to Rotherham Council two years after it was placed in special measures.

Elderly care and street cleaning are among the latest responsibilities to be put back into the hands of councillors. But children’s social care and community safety are among areas which will remain in the control of the commissioners sent in to run the authority in 2015 following a damning report triggered by the child abuse scandal which engulfed the town.

Mr Javid said: “The return of additional powers to Rotherham reflects the significant progress made by the council under the watchful eye of our commissioners.”