Council to continue driving forward the transformation of its children’s services

13/12/2018, PR8946

Wakefield Council is to continue leading and driving forward the transformation of its children and young people’s services.

The Government confirmed the services will remain under the Council’s full control after an Independent Commissioner found that ‘any Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) could disrupt the now rapidly developing improvement programme’.

The Under-Secretary of State, Nadhim Zahawi MP, agreed with the findings of the report from the Commissioner, Peter Dwyer CBE, who recommended that there was ‘strong enough evidence that long-term sustainable improvement can be achieved if operational control remains with the Council’.

In his report, the Commissioner commented that Wakefield Council ‘has responded robustly and at considerable pace to the challenges posed by the 2018 Ofsted inspection’, acknowledging that Wakefield now has a ‘significant degree of stability of political leadership and a wider council senior management team more closely engaged with understanding and supporting required improvement.’

He highlighted that improvement work has been accelerated by the new Director for Children’s Services and Chief Executive, alongside new appointments to key political leadership roles. The Commissioner found that significant additional financial resources, which were immediately prioritised, are now in the medium-term financial strategy and that additional resources have been well used to increase frontline social work capacity, and as a result caseloads are reducing and management oversight is improving.

The Statutory Direction published by the Under-Secretary of State advises that Peter Dwyer CBE will carry out an interim review in May 2019 and a final review in November 2019, reporting back to the Minister.

Cllr Peter Box CBE
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council

The Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Peter Box CBE, said: “I welcome the decision by the Under-Secretary of State to keep children’s services under the full control of Wakefield Council. This supports the robust and effective changes I have ensured are being delivered.

“My efforts have been focussed on getting the right people in place and making the required financial resources available. In addition, I have made sure there is more robust challenge and oversight across the Council.

“The improvement we have achieved so far does not mean we are complacent. We fully understand that the scale of the transformation is considerable and the ongoing support of the Commissioner is very welcome and appreciated.

“We now need to maintain a steely focus as we continue to ensure that the changes we are delivering make a positive difference to staff and make a difference to lives of our children and their families.

Merran McRae

Merran McRae, Wakefield Council’s Chief Executive, said: “We now have the opportunity to demonstrate our ability to sustain the significant changes we have made and, most importantly, evidence the impact this is having on children and their families.

“The Commissioner’s report expresses confidence that, with the new leadership put in place by Cllr Box and I, we can deliver the necessary improvements and that we have the capacity and capability to improve these services. The whole council is involved in supporting the transformation of our children’s services.

“Elected members from both parties are challenging progress and improvement to ensure the Council has robust assurance that action is being taken and delivering results.

“The work we are doing with our partners continues to be strengthened and remains pivotal to our transformation.”

The Independent Commissioner came to Wakefield Council in September 2018, after a standard Ofsted inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services took place over two weeks in June. Ofsted judged the services to be inadequate across the board. Following this, an Independent Commissioner was appointed to review the services and make recommendations to the Government minister.

The Commissioner's revised direction, and full report, is available on the Department for Education website at
www.gov.uk/government/publications/revised-direction-issued-to-wakefield-council

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