Doncaster Council’s children services improving, says Government inspectors

Chris Pratt, the director of DMBC's Children and Young Person's Service. Picture: Liz Mockler D8089LM
Chris Pratt, the director of DMBC's Children and Young Person's Service. Picture: Liz Mockler D8089LM

Doncaster Council’s under-fire children’s services department is improving, says Ofsted.

The service which the Government took over in 2009 following the deaths of seven children in the borough, some through neglect or abuse, was given an overall grading of two out of four - or “adequate” following an inspection.

Having been classed as “poor” - the lowest ranking - for the last few years, the service was re-inspected in April.

Ofsted has now said “significant progress had been made” and that the department had “adequate capacity to improve”.

The report highlighted improvements made in the last year, particularly in safeguarding children, supporting youngsters to learn and stay safe and good provision of quality of day-care settings and children’s homes.

It said the large majority of services for children under five was “good or better” with steady improvements over the last four years in the early years foundation stage.

Almost three quarters of primary schools were judged to be good or better.

Key improvements were in GCSE achievement with the rate of improvement in children obtaining five A* to C grades including English and maths twice that nationally.

Children’s homes had improved with one deemed inadequate and three outstanding.

Recommendations included attendance of police and health officials at child protection conferences, ensuring reports were shared with families, addressing secondary school absence, the quality of teaching in secondary schools and post-16 provision.

Young people gaining level three qualifications by the age of 19 was “below that found elsewhere” which was the same for young people from low-income families, it added.

Chris Pratt, director of the children’s service, said: “Children’s services in Doncaster are making progress, and I’m pleased that Ofsted have recognised the areas where we have improved.

“There is still a long way to go until we have a consistently good service for all children and young people but I am committed to making sure that we continue to improve in all areas and will vigorously implement Ofsted’s recommendations.

“We now have a stable senior management team with some excellent staff working for them and I see no reason why we shouldn’t continue on our improvement journey.”