Wakefield's children's services 'more transparent' under new management

The council's children's services was rated inadequate last year.
The council's children's services was rated inadequate last year.

Wakefield's children's services has become more "open and transparent", since it was placed into special measures by Ofsted, a council meeting has been told.

Councillor David Jones, who chairs the authority's children and young people scrutiny committee, said "barriers" had existed under the service's previous management, which was replaced in March 2018 after a visit by the regulator.

Featherstone councillor Dick Taylor said he wanted to make sure there could be no chance of "cover-ups" within the service

Featherstone councillor Dick Taylor said he wanted to make sure there could be no chance of "cover-ups" within the service

Ofsted is in Wakefield again this week to inspect children's services, six months after it was rated inadequate and told vulnerable youngsters in the care system were being put at risk.

The council has since pumped millions of pounds into the department to improve it.

Elected members have been invited to make visits to parts of the service themselves and to talk to social workers.

But Labour councillor Dick Taylor said he was concerned that staff who may want to raise issues could still be stopped from speaking out.

He said: "If we turn up and there was something to be covered up, it could be.

"A member of staff who would say something can easily be taken out of the way.

"How can we make sure we can’t cover things up if there’s a serious problem we need to know about? How can we protect against that?"

Council officer Stephen Crofts insisted that staff had freedom to speak about their issues without threat from their superiors.

He said: "I’d hope we’re in the business of not covering things up.

"To build trust we need to be open and transparent. That would always be our intention."

The authority is hopeful of having children's services eventually taken out of special measures, having demonstrated enough improvement before Christmas to convince the government to let them keep control of it.

Coun Jones said that the culture around the department had changed.

"It’s fair to say there were barriers under the previous management," he said. "I think we’re all well aware of that.

"I think we’ve moved in a new direction and towards a new structure now. It will take time for that to bed in.

"It’s early stages but certainly action has been taken."