The leadership of North East Lincolnshire Council has pledged to protect and support young people after the local authority’s children’s services were judged ‘inadequate’.
Ofsted inspectors visited the area in October to conduct a full inspection of the department. A report into the findings, released on Friday, is highly critical of the service saying there are ‘serious weaknesses’ in key areas.
The council’s children’s services were graded ‘inadequate’ in three areas: the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families; the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection; and the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers.
The same judgement was also given to the overall ‘effectiveness’ of the service.
It is now confirmed that a Department for Education appointed commissioner – a specialist in supporting local authorities to improve – will work with the council.
North East Lincolnshire Council was judged to be ‘good’ after its last inspection in 2017. According to the report, however, services to children and families have ‘significantly deteriorated.’
‘This inspection has identified widespread weaknesses in assessment, planning and management decision-making, leaving many children at risk of harm,’ the report says.
‘Corporate leaders and senior managers do not have sufficient understanding about the quality of practice and the level of risk and need that children are experiencing.’
Responding to the report, the leader of the council, Cllr Philip Jackson said: ‘We recognise and accept Ofsted’s findings. But let me emphasise today that North East Lincolnshire Council is absolutely committed to continuing its journey of improvement and in doing so we will work with all concerned to keep our children safe.’
Ofsted’s report comes as the director of Children’s Services, Lisa Arthey, has announced she is leaving the authority after almost two years – eight months of those as director. In a statement, the council said that during Ms Arthey’s directorship ‘significant inroads’ were made into the changes that are required.
Portfolio holder for children’s services, Cllr Ian Lindley said: ‘We are determined to meet these challenges. We will not shy away from this, instead we will rise to it.
‘The council is committed to work with the specialist commissioner, alongside partners, to accelerate an improvement plan. This three-year plan, implemented in 2019, is underway and is already seeing positive changes – a fact highlighted in the report, with praise in a number of areas.’