Ofsted return to inspect Wakefield's children's services after 2018 inadequate rating

Ofsted has returned to fully inspect Wakefield's children's services for the first time since rating them inadequate three years ago.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 5:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 5:08 pm

Wakefield Council was told it was letting vulnerable children in the district down when the watchdog prescribed "serious failings" the service in 2018.

Inspectors have completed a two-week visit to review practices within the department.

The local authority is optimistic about securing an improved rating, having put in place a number of measures to boost standards.

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County Hall in Wakefield

The results of Ofsted' s findings are expected to be published in the new year.

Confirming the news in a report going before councillors next week, the council's Cabinet member for children and young people, Margaret Isherwood, said: "We welcomed Ofsted inspectors back on Monday November 8 for a full re-inspection of our children’s services – the first since the Council’s inadequate judgement in 2018.

"Inspectors were then with us on-site for two weeks evaluating the effectiveness of social work practice to help and protect children, our arrangements for permanence, the experiences and progress of children in care (and those who return home) and care leavers as well as the effectiveness of leader and managers and their impact upon outcomes for children and families."

Confirming the visit had finished, Councillor Isherwood added: "I know first-hand the progress that has been made since 2018 and its positive impact on our district’s children and families, and so I do truly welcome the opportunity for inspectors to recognise this in their feedback."

Councillor Isherwood, portfolio holder for children and young people, said she welcomed the opportunity for Ofsted to formally recognise the improvements that have been made since 2018.

Among Ofsted's criticisms in 2018 was the suggestion that children's services was understaffed, too reliant on agency workers and caseloads for staff were too high.

The regulator's report said failures were leaving "Children at risk of harm or living in harmful situations for too long."

The then council leader, Peter Box, almost lost his job over the crisis as Labour colleagues rebelled against him in the aftermath. He survived the bid to oust him, however.

Ofsted continued to oversee the service in the months afterwards and have carried out a number of focused inspections since, which are not as wide-reaching as a graded full inspection.

Local Democracy Reporting Service