'Building blocks in place to improve Wakefield children's services', report says

Wakefield Town Hall
Wakefield Town Hall

A commissioner appointed by the government to monitor Wakefield's children's services, has said "building blocks" are in place to drive progress forward.

The department was placed in special measures last summer after an Ofsted report said youngsters in the care of the local authority were being left at risk because of a number of failings within the service.

Wakefield Council says that a number of improvements have taken place in the year since, including cutting caseloads for previously overworked staff and boosting numbers within the workforce.

Ofsted's latest report last month said that the impact of actions within parts of the service was "too slow".

But the improvements have been recognised by commissioner Pete Dwyer, who has penned his latest findings.

In his report, published by the council, Mr Dwyer recalled how in 2018 he'd said the council had not historically "created the systemic building blocks" needed for the service to be affected.

He added: "I would suggest, and this is consistently endorsed, by others including Ofsted, that these are significantly and securely in place, albeit with the need for maintained momentum.

"The capability and ambition of senior leaders both within the local authority and across the partnership is clear to see.

"Crucially the workforce is more stable and far more confident in the cultural change they witness being delivered."

On a note of caution, Mr Dywer added that "care is also needed that changes delivered endure over time" and said that on core standards senior leaders now needed to "accelerate" their work.

Welcoming the findings, the council's portfolio holder for children and young people, Margaret Isherwood said: "The commissioner’s endorsement that our progress is moving at the rate it should be and his acknowledgement that we are, in some areas, ahead of the game, is good to note.

“In June, I made it very clear that we are confident that we are moving at a sustainable pace that is right for Wakefield. The commissioner agrees.

"The scale of the transformation remains significant but we are making strong progress."

Local Democracy Reporting Service