Commissioner endorses Council's progress

23/07/2019, PR-9134

The Commissioner has endorsed Council's progress
The Commissioner has endorsed Council's progress

​The progress of Wakefield Council's work to transform its children's services has been endorsed by the Government's Independent Commissioner, following a six month review.

The Commissioner, Peter Dwyer CBE, clearly stated that Wakefield's progress is in his view, and 'the views of experienced others', 'at least in line and potentially in advance of that of others' - given the complexity of the challenges.

Mr Dwyer is carrying out regular reviews of Wakefield's improvement journey, looking at the progress made, current projects and plans for the future. This six month review was carried out during a three-day visit in June and the Commissioner's findings were reported back to the Department for Education (DfE).

The review is not published by the DfE or Commissioner. However, now that the DfE has signed off the findings report, Wakefield Council is sharing the document in full with all elected members and key partners, as part of its honest and open transformation journey.

The findings state that Wakefield Council has made significant progress in several key areas to deliver the ongoing transformation of its children's services. Mr Dwyer identified

  • An organisation at all levels, which presents a clearer, calmer and more informed narrative around children and young people's services
  • A leadership culture that is visible, communicates well and is engaging
  • Clear political oversight of improvement work with members taking appropriate key roles
  • Strong and well placed senior leadership and stability at other levels of management
  • Improved performance information and case-loads reduced

The review outlines that there now needs to be further focus on the area of practice improvement and innovation which the Council acknowledges and has a clear plan of how to achieve it.

Cllr Margaret Isherwood
Cllr Margaret Isherwood

​Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "The Commissioner's endorsement that our progress is moving at the rate it should be and his acknowledgement that we are, in some areas, ahead of the game, is good to note.

"In June, I made it very clear that we are confident that we are moving at a sustainable pace that is right for Wakefield. The Commissioner agrees.

"The scale of the transformation remains significant but we are making strong progress."

Beate Wagner, Corporate Director for Children and Young People, said: "As we have said before we are putting strong, sustainable foundations in place to ensure that the improvements we deliver for our children and young people produce real benefits.

"The ongoing scrutiny from the Commissioner and Ofsted continues to reassure that we absolutely know what needs to be done, in the face of significant challenge and are making progress in-line with our plans. Mr Dwyer wants to see a greater acceleration of work on core practice standards, without undermining the change already delivered. We agree. This is something we are already on with and I am confident that as we build on our efforts this will be far more evident."

The Commissioner came to Wakefield Council in September 2018 after a standard Ofsted inspection of the Local Authority's Children Services took place in June 2018. Ofsted judged the services to be inadequate across the board.

In December 2018, the Government confirmed that Wakefield Council would retain full control of its children's services following a report from the Commissioner that made it clear that Wakefield had responded well to the challenges it faced.

Ofsted and the Commissioner will continue to make regular monitoring visits to Wakefield as the Council drives forward with the transformation of its children's services.