Medway Council named on child protection blacklist by Ofsted
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Child protection for some of the most vulnerable youngsters in Medway is inadequate, according to a report released by Ofsted this week.
It is among 20 councils in England rated 'unacceptably poor' in the watchdog’s first stand-alone social care annual report.
The findings of nearly 25,000 inspections carried out during 2011/12 blamed “incompetent and ineffective “ leadership in the local authorities which have been named in the black list.
It has pointed out that more than half, including Medway, had recruited a new director of children’s services and portfolio holder, in the past year.
Barbara Peacock took up the helm last September and children’s services chief Cllr Les Wicks was replaced by Cllr Mike O’Brien last May.
Cllr O’Brien said Ms Peacock was take on for her record in rapidly turning around a children’s services department previously rated inadequate.
He said: “At the time of the report into children’s safeguarding in February this year, we vowed to speed up the improvements being brought in under the guidance of our new director and Ofsted recognised she had quickly understood keys areas for development, established a clear vision and is significantly increasing the pace of change.
“It was also noted that the council has the capacity to make the improvements needed and that it has protected the budget for child protection services despite cuts in overall government grant funding.
“In addition, we have enhanced our referral system and started a campaign to recruit more social workers.”
Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw published his first annual report yesterday to take into account a full year’s inspection following radical changes in social care frameworks.
Sir Michael said: “Incompetent and ineffective leadership must be addressed quickly. But where those in leadership positions have capacity and potential, this must be recognised and nurtured.”
Inspectors stressed that no child in Medway was found to be at risk.
Ms Peacock, director of children’s services said: “There is a lot of work to do, and we are clear on that fact, but Ofsted acknowledges we are heading in the right direction.”
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