Liverpool Council is bracing for its first inspection from Ofsted following a damning report into its failing children’s services.
Earlier this year, the education inspectorate slammed the service provided by the local authority as “inadequate” and cited “serious weaknesses” for children who need help or protection, leaving children “being harmed or at risk of harm.”
Following an inspection in March, the children’s services department has been rated as inadequate in four out of five of the key areas – including the overall rating.
Assessing the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, the education watchdog said the council had shown “insufficient prioritisation and pace in tackling critical areas necessary to enable improvement.”
The local authority is now preparing for officials to undertake their first monitoring visit since the report was published. Cllr Liz Parsons, cabinet member for children’s services, told the children’s and young people scrutiny committee she expected Ofsted to visit the city in September.
Addressing the report, Cllr Parsons said Ofsted’s findings were a “deeply concerning report” and an improvement plan was being submitted in the next two months. She added how it was important for all stakeholders to contribute to improvements across Liverpool’s children’s services.
Speaking before committee members, she said, “As corporate parents, we’re all responsible. We’ll look thematically at children’s services to ensure we can properly scrutinise the plan.”
Cllr Parsons said the report had highlighted a lack of capacity within the service and she had already held talks with incoming director of children’s services, Jenny Turnbull, about how to turn things around. Jonathan Jones, director of education, said the plan was “the starting point of the improvement journey” and partners from Merseyside Police and other organisations had input.
Committee members kept their powder dry for the most part, with the report to be the focus of an extraordinary meeting of the city council next week. Cllr Kevin Pilnick said, “Between the inspection in 2018 and now, we must have done things that clearly haven’t worked.”
A motion has been laid by members of the largest opposition group – the Liberal Democrats – making a series of recommendations in the aftermath of the wideraging assessment.
The motion calls upon council leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, and the cabinet to ensure that child protection plans are in place and are not abandoned in an untimely manner. Additionally, the opposition said the executive must implement regular ‘health checks’ on service quality to ensure “no further drift, delay and deterioration.”
It will be discussed at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday.