County Council's children's services still under scrutiny

Today's meeting is at County Hall, PrestonToday's meeting is at County Hall, Preston
Today's meeting is at County Hall, Preston
Much improved '“ but could still do much better. That is the verdict so far on Lancashire's crisis hit children's services.

Councillors met yesterday to consider a report on the county council service, which was rated inadequate by Ofsted in November 2015.

Since that date the council has embarked on wide ranging improvement works and a new full Ofsted inspection is due in May or June.

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A report presented to the children’s services scrutiny committee revealed the service has had 13 different external inspections or reviews since February 2017, in addition to the routine inspections of children’s homes.

John Readman, the council’s new executive director of education and children’s services, said: “A lot has improved over the last couple of years. The service is in better shape but there’s still a long way to go.”

The Department of Education had acknowledged plans are in place to sustain improvement and staff morale is good but had noted inconsistency in practice.

A report, prepared by the council’s own officers, acknowledges five key challenges – on capacity, consistency, management, dealing with high demand and understanding children.

It concluded: “We have some examples of good practice now but this is not consistent - we still have some inadequate, but not unsafe practice.”