Mayor Ros Jones backs criticised leaders of Doncaster’s children’s services following damning Ofsted report

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has backed criticised leaders of the borough’s children’s services following a damning Ofsted report.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 11th April 2022, 2:14 pm

The government watchdog said that leadership within Doncaster Council and arms-length Doncaster Children’s Services Trust were’ ‘inadequate’ and had overseen a ‘significant deterioration’ of social care since its last inspection.

Mayor Jones said she was confident the leadership in place would turn things around and that children’s services were already undergoing a huge overhaul behind the scenes.

The news comes as Doncaster Children Services Trust (DCST) is to be brought back in house following nearly 10 years away from direct council control.

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Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has backed leaders of children's services in Doncaster despite Ofsted ruling that leadership between the council and Doncaster Children's Services Trust was 'inadequate'.

The former Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered an independent trust to be set up in wake of high profile scandals in children’s services and a number of poor Ofsted results.

DCST was then moved into an ‘arms-length management organisation’ arrangement with the council some years later where the local authority could work closer together and hold the board to account.

The Ofsted report council leaders didn’t push hard enough in holding DCST to account until July 2020.

But they added ‘a previously difficult relationship’ between the council and DCST, compounded by a ‘lack of accurate performance information’ available to the council, meant that the council’s line of sight to children’s experiences was ‘hindered’.

Doncaster Children's Services Trust will be absorbed back into the council from September 2022.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mayor Jones said: “With the independent body, the Trust model that we have makes it difficult in terms of challenge and accountability.

“So I’ve got complete confidence in the leadership of the council – the DCST leadership has changed significantly over this period of time.

“The report does clearly state that we’re in the right direction of travel and the decision for the trust to be transferred back to the council will also help lead us to work in a more efficient and effective way to drive forward what we know is a crucial service.

“When the Trust was brought in initially, we had nothing to do with it. We pushed to bring it back, we’ve done this collectively together in order to deliver services better than ever.

“I believe our people will really push forward and bring the changes required to make it the most efficient and effective as we can.”