Bradford Council Children’s Services judged ‘inadequate’

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe
Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe
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BRADFORD Council’s Children’s Services have been judged inadequate by Ofsted, with inspectors saying the service has “rapidly deteriorated” in the past 18 months.

In a report released at 9.30am today, the inspection body says that services for children in need of protection leave children “at risk of serious harm.”

The report says the main reason for the drop in quality had been a huge increase in demand for services, at the same time that a “significant” number of social workers and managers who have left Bradford Council to work for other councils.

The report judges the Council’s Children’s Services in three areas, impact of leaders, judged requires improvement, experiences of children in care, also judged to require improvement and experiences and progress of children who need help and protection, which is judged inadequate.

The judgement in this category has led to an overall inadequate judgement.

Inspectors had visited Bradford to inspect the service late last month.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We are extremely disappointed that at our recent Ofsted inspection the services we deliver to protect the most vulnerable were found not to be meeting the high standards our children deserve.

“We are very sorry this has happened and we will act quickly and address it.

We have increased spending in children’s services by six per cent this year but we are going to have to spend more on Children’s Services and we will deliver rapid improvements.

“Bradford has been very open about the pressure that staff shortages and increasing demand has put on our services. The inspectors acknowledge that services are stretched and that we have been addressing them.”

The report says that at one point earlier this year there were 38 social worker vacancies, around one fifth of the service’s total workforce. But it points out that after a big recruitment push by the Council this had been reduced to five at the time of the inspection.

“Across child protection and children in need services too many children are not getting the right help they need at the right time. Inspectors found clear evidence of the detrimental impact of changes of social workers and managers, as well as resultant poor practice, leaving children at risk of significant harm.

“Other vulnerable children receive good support. For example, the response to children at risk of child sexual exploitation is a strength.”