Doncaster Council and Trust leaders oversee ‘significant deterioration’ in children’s services say Ofsted

A damning report has said senior leaders within Doncaster’s children’s services have overseen a ‘significant deterioration’ since its last inspection.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 8th April 2022, 5:06 pm

A newly published Ofsted report heavily criticised failings on a range of levels but labelled the leadership of the DMBC and that of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (DCST) as ‘inadequate’ – the lowest possible rating.

The overall rating says the services ‘require improvement’.

Inspectors said that contracted arrangements between the council and the Trust have ‘failed to sustain good help and protection, care and support’ for many children and young people.

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Riana Nelson from DMBC said that the issues identified in the report are 'not new to us' and they're the same as those being working on as part of a 'rapid improvement plan' that was established in Autumn 2021.

The damning report comes two weeks after Doncaster Council decided to take DCST back in house and said the decision was for the ‘best outcomes of children’.

It’s understood the Mayor Jones and her cabinet were briefed on the Ofsted inspection but did not know the findings of the report before presenting the Rule 15 Urgent Decision to move services back to the council.

The 12-page report, which said the inspection took place in February 2022 and published in April, outlined that leaders and managers’ line of sight to practice quality, performance and children’s progress and experiences is ‘significantly impaired’ by the recently installed electronic management and recording systems.

They went on to say that many staff and managers are ‘insufficiently trained to have the confidence or ability to use the systems well.

Doncaster Children's Services Trust is being brought back into council control after Government ordered an independent trust to be set up away from local authority control in response to damning failings in children's social care.

Inspectors went further and added senior leaders have been ‘ineffective in making improvements, and children’s records and many performance reports continue to be inaccurate’.

The report did say that since July 2020, council leaders have been more robust in their challenge to the Trust leadership.

There were also ‘significant changes’ and current leaders are ‘now more open and transparent about the significant decline in children’s social care’.

But the report also added that ‘too many children’s needs have gone unmet’ and children have experienced ‘drift and delay in their plans progressing’.

Riana Nelson, director of learning, opportunities and skills at DMBC, said: “Doncaster Council and Doncaster Children’s Services Trust have been on a path of rapid improvement for the past six months.

“The issues that have been identified in this report are not new to us as they are the same as those that we have been working on as part of a rapid improvement plan that was established in Autumn 2021.

“We’re determined to improve and do better. Having said that it is good to see that Ofsted has noted this work and the recent improvements made but we want to challenge ourselves to now pick up this pace.”