Leaders in charge of Doncaster's children say services ‘are not failing’ despite poor Ofsted report

The people in charge of children’s social care in Doncaster have said services are not failing despite a poor Ofsted report.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 5:17 pm

The leadership of both the council and the arms-length organisation Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (DCST) were rated ‘inadequate’ by the government regulator.

The report said leaders had overseen a ‘significant deterioration’ of children’s social care since its last inspection.

The overall inspection said children’s services in the borough ‘requires improvement’.

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Riana Nelson is the council's lead on children's services

But in a Q&A sent to staff, both children’s services leaders at the council and Trust said there were ‘references of positive trajectory’ and that the ‘overall outcome would suggest services are not failing’.

This is despite a previous report which said children’s services were ‘good’ in 2018.

The Ofsted report comes less than two weeks after Mayor Ros Jones’ cabinet rubber-stamped a decision to move all children’s services back into council control.

Bosses in the Q&A denied the poor Ofsted report was the reason behind the move and that discussions were underway before its publication.

Doncaster Children's Services Trust

In the Q&A sent to staff, Riana Nelson and Rebecca Wilshire from DCST said:

Are children’s services failing again in Doncaster?

“The overall outcome of the inspection would suggest not. We ‘require improvement’ to be good and there are references in the report regarding the positive trajectory of improvement.

“This report identifies areas for improvement, these are areas that we have already identified ourselves. Like many other areas across the country we have seen an increase in not only number but complexity of families coming into the social care services over the last two years and we need to make sure that our services are changing in line with the landscape.

“This is not about failure, it is about moving forward positively and we are very confident we have the correct team in place to do this.”

Is this the real reason the Trust is being taken back into the Council?

“The decision to start the transfer of children’s social care into the council has been taken independently of this report.

“Over the past six months the council and the Trust have started to work together much closer and we have seen the benefits of this.

“Although recent improvements have been obvious (the Ofsted report notes this) we want to speed up the pace and we all agree the best way to do this is to bring the services into full council control and operate as one body.”

Why have senior leaders been ‘ineffective in making improvements?

“There have been a number of contributory factors to the findings of this report, however the report does also clearly state that the current leadership team is making improvements and that the direction of travel is the right one.

“The decision for the Trust to be transferred into the council will also help leaders to work in a more efficient and effective way.”