Ofsted praise Rotherham Council for improvements in children's services

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Ofsted inspectors have praised Rotherham Council for turning around children's services.

Two years ago the council's children's services department was rated 'inadequate' in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal after it emerged that 1,400 children were abused by men of largely Pakistani heritage while those in authority failed to act.

But in a second monitoring visit letter, published today, inspectors have praised the council for the 'positive organisational culture' now in place in children’s services.

The inspectors' report said 'the council is making continuous progress in improving services for children in need of help and protection' and that 'staff are highly committed and motivated'.

Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council’s Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, said: “To be told you have a positive organisational culture is something which you just can’t buy and certainly two years ago we would never have believed we would be hearing.

"Here in Rotherham we have some of the most loyal, dedicated and highly motivated staff I have ever seen. Everyone has the same goal - to turn the ship around and make Rotherham the best it can be and put the past firmly in the past.

“In the last year we have introduced a hugely successful recruitment and retention scheme. We recognised the main issues facing social workers and tackled them head on. This has included a complete reorganisation of our offer - making smaller teams based in localities, better management structures and supervision and development opportunities.

"But the best thing we have done is to cut caseloads so now they are much more manageable and we monitor this on a daily basis.”

But although inspectors also said the quality of early help assessments was getting better, numbers which are being completed by partners, including the police and health services, still remain low and needs to change. They also said more needs to be done to conduct police interviews with social workers present to reduce the number of times a child has to tell their story.

Coun Gordon Watson, Rotherham Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services said: “We welcome the inspectors’ findings and hope it helps turn around future ratings, but we need to remember we still have a long way to go as we are half way through a five year journey.”