Ofsted notes ‘Reasonable Progress’ to children’s services at Sunderland City Council

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Struggling children’s services bosses are making ‘Reasonable Progress’ towards improvements in Sunderland.

According to the latest visit to Sunderland City Council by Ofsted inspectors, managers and councillors are doing an improved job of running the department.

But they are also criticised for failing to identify all the areas that need to be improved.

According to the report, published on October 31: “The chief executive ensured that the service’s progress against its post-inspection action plan was reviewed at the earliest opportunity at the council’s chief officers’ group.

“The [cabinet member for Children, Learning and Skills] has developed a detailed understanding of the challenges facing the service in the short space of time she has been in post.

“As a result, the senior leadership in the council is effective in holding managers to account for the performance of the service.”

The council was found to be making ‘Reasonable Progress’ in all six of the areas assessed, relating to its apprenticeships.

At the time of the visit, which took place in September, the council had 204 apprentices on health and social care programmes and is now ‘winding down its apprenticeship contract’.

A full inspection in February this year blasted the council for being ‘too slow’ to challenge failings in in services.

The most recent findings came on the heels of two separate reports which also showed improvements in the city’s fostering and adoption services.

“We’re all very pleased how Ofsted and its inspectors have recognised positive progress in all areas where concerns were raised,” said Coun Louise Farthing, cabinet member for Children, Learning and Skills.

“We had been in touch with employers about apprentices continuing with us and the overwhelming majority – 90 out of 92 employers – wanted  to continue.

“We wish all the apprentices well with their work and new skills.”

However, despite the positives from the reports, opposition leaders on the city council still have concerns about the quality of oversight.

Coun Robert Oliver, head of the Conservative Party group, accused the local authority of failing young people.

Liberal Democrat leader Coun Niall Hodson acknowledged the ‘real effort to improve’ shown by managers, but added issues remained with the scheme.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service