A government advisor has been appointed as part of an improvement notice issued to Trafford MBC after Ofsted found leadership failings had led to a serious deterioration in its children’s social care services.
The notice issued today on behalf of education secretary Damian Hinds orders the council to ensure there is clear evidence of progress under its improvement plan, with a deadline for implementation of August 2020, and to establish an improvement board with an independent chair to oversee implementation.
The Department for Education will carry out reviews of performance every six months covering leadership, management and governance, workforce and management oversight, early help and multi-agency arrangements.
The notice says the unnamed advisor may require a “diagnostic review” of specific services to be conducted by Trafford or another party agreed by the DfE.
If the council is “unwilling or unable” to comply with the improvement notice, a direction will be considered.
An Ofsted report published on 8 May said Trafford’s children’s social care services are inadequate and highlighted a “widespread deterioration” in Trafford’s children’s social care services since it received a ‘good’ rating in 2015 “as a result of failures in leadership”.
The report also said children were found to be left “living in neglectful situations” for too long.
Ofsted added: “At the start of this inspection, the self-assessment and the presentation from senior leaders made clear that they believed services remained good or outstanding.
“They had no awareness of the decline in services and no accurate understanding of the current quality of practice.”
Responding to the Ofsted report at the time, Trafford chief executive Sara Todd, who started at the council in February, said she wanted the council to “embrace the challenge” of improving services.
She added: “I would characterise Ofsted’s remarks as corporate criticisms of the service’s overall leadership and processes.
“Our teams work tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young adults and they exemplify the very best of public service.
“Indeed, amid the criticisms there are also positive comments, recognising, for instance, that children at immediate risk of harm ‘receive timely assessment and intervention that makes them safer.”
Trafford has been approached for further comment.