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Peterborough director resigns over Ofsted inspection

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Peterborough City Council’s director of children’s services has resigned after Ofsted gave the authority’s children’s safeguarding services another “inadequate” rating.

The council announced John Richards’ departure yesterday, following publication of a follow-up report that gave a poor outlook for improving the service and questioned its leadership and management.

Adrian Loades, director of children’s services at Cambridgeshire CC, will be seconded to Peterborough in what is the first example of a change of service leadership under local government’s new sector-led improvement regime for children’s services.

Mr Loades’ secondment will be for an initial period of three months, and will see him lead diagnosis and improvement work within the accompanied by a team of experts from across the region.

Ofsted originally gave Peterborough an “inadequate” rating for its children’s services in March last year. While an unannounced inspection in February found some improvements across the service,  a five-day safeguarding inspection last month (see file at right) found the service was still inadequate and judged it to also have an inadequate capacity to improve.

Report author Martin Ayres said “serious deficiencies in the social care fieldwork service” resulted in too many children being left without sufficient safeguards or adequate protection arrangements.

“In effect it is not possible to be assured that the current situation in children’s social care services has sufficiently improved to ensure vulnerable children and young people are safe,” he said.

He said that the service was under-staffed at the frontline, and lacked strong leadership, management, and quality assurance.

Mr Ayres added that some elements of performance had declined since the unannounced inspection.

Among Ofsted’s recommendations was a complete audit of referrals passed through the contact service over the past six months.

Sheila Scott (Con) Peterborough’s children’s services lead, said shortcomings with the authority’s safeguarding services became apparent while the inspection was still ongoing.

“I ordered immediate action from officers to address the issues without delay,” she said.

“The chief executive stepped in straight away and took control of the situation.

“We are bringing in a highly experienced team to focus on making changes and improving processes.

“We expect to be re-inspected in 18 months.”

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