Doncaster children’s services removed from council care

Police investigate the scene in the Brick Ponds area of Edlington where two young boys were found brutally attacked by two other boys aged 10 and 11.
Police investigate the scene in the Brick Ponds area of Edlington where two young boys were found brutally attacked by two other boys aged 10 and 11.
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Doncaster has become the first council in the country to be stripped of its children’s services because of a ‘legacy of failure’.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced yesterday that a commissioner and an independent trust will take over the care of children’s services in the town for ten years.
Recently elected Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said she was “deeply disappointed”.

She said she thought progress was being made to improve services which was her ‘absolute priority’ since being elected in May.

In March 2009, the government ordered a takeover of Doncaster’s children’s services following the deaths of seven children in five years through abuse or neglect.

Less than a year later a serious case review found attacks in Edlington in which two young boys were tortured by two brothers, aged 11 and 12, had been “preventable”.

Mrs Jones said: “I’m deeply disappointed.
“We will do what’s best for the children of Doncaster.

“I believe that internally we could have actually worked along, got everyone on board and started turning around what is a mammoth ship.

“We will do what’s needed in order to make sure our kids are safe.”

She said the council’s new interim children’s services director - the highly respected Eleanor Brazil - hadn’t been given time to turn things around.

Doncaster’s council tax payers will foot most of the bill to set up the trust.

Most of the council’s 700 children’s services staff will transfer to the new organisation when it becomes operational next Spring.

The decision was taken after a report to Mr Gove, compiled by Prof Julian Le Grand and a panel of experts, was published yesterday.

It was drawn up after last November when children’s services failed an Ofsted inspection.

The panel said it was impressed by the ‘deep commitment’ of those involved to improve children’s services but there was disagreement over the causes of the lack of improvement

Prof Le Grand said: “There have been many attempts to tackle the problems within the service, mostly involving changes of senior management...all of which have promised much, but have delivered little.

“Despite numerous new leaders...the problems remain.

“There is a culture of failure and disillusion that pervades the service and that serves to obstruct every attempt at reform.”

Doncaster MPs, Ed Miliband, Caroline Flint and Rosie Winterton said: “As MPs we want to see an effective structure for safeguarding children that everyone in Doncaster can understand and support.”