North Somerset's children's social care services 'require improvement'

Cllrs Catherine Gibbons and Mike Bell. 

Cllrs Catherine Gibbons and Mike Bell. - Credit: North Somerset Council

The Government's education watchdog has told North Somerset Council it 'requires improvements' to its children's social care provision across the area. 

Ofsted inspected significant parts of North Somerset’s children’s social care services during March and concluded that overall, they continue to 'require improvement to be good’.

It inspected three separate areas - the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, and the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection - both 'require improvement to be good'.

The experience and progress of children in care and care leavers was deemed as 'good'.

The council's executive agreed at its meeting on October 21 to note the Ofsted report and the council's initial improvement plan, which has been submitted to Ofsted; to seek a further report identifying the resources necessary to implement fully the improvement proposal after it has been accepted by Ofsted and to agree the internal and external scrutiny and challenge arrangements.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, executive member with responsibility for children’s services and lifelong learning, said: “This is an enormous piece of work and one I want us to take the responsibly on in exactly the same light as the climate emergency.

"There were positives within the report;  the new leadership and executive have prioritised children and have done so through the new corporate plan. 

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"We are entering a really difficult period and we like many local authorities are operating against a backdrop where there’s £2.2billion less funding for children than there was in 2010/11 and on top of that £136million spent nationally on children's social care as a result of the coronavirus pandemic from March to July.

"This is a very challenging environment nationally and as an administration we are committed to lobbying central Government.”

Deputy leader of the council, Mike Bell, added: “I think it’s important that we do hold out hands up and take responsibly when things are not good enough. It’s been a very challenging environment and a lack of funding from central Government to support that and year-on-year we’ve struggled to deliver the services people have every right to expect.

"But what we are focused on now is putting this front and centre in terms of our priorities, if we don’t make that investment and get those services right then so much else we want to achieve will simply not be delivered. We need to do better and we will.”

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