Northamptonshire child care 'suffers systemic failings'

Ofsted said it found "key shortfalls" within the health, education, employment and training of children

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Children in care in Northamptonshire are suffering because of "systemic failings", Ofsted has said.

The education watchdog branded the county council's care provisions as "inadequate" in all categories following an inspection in July.

It follows a damning report in March, stating abused children were not being properly protected by the council.

The authority said it was already carrying out improvements.

The new report said inspectors found many problems were rooted in poor management. Recently a significant number of experienced staff had left their posts, the report added, meaning work was being carried out by many agency and less experienced workers.

Ofsted said "key shortfalls" within health, education, employment and training had adversely affected the outcomes for looked-after children.

People leaving care and too many other young people were not being routinely seen by their social workers, the Ofsted report found.

'Legacy of failures'

It added that while the strategic priorities of the council and its partners were now clear, action plans were at an early stage of implementation and so far there had been little impact.

The watchdog said the authority must immediately improve the quality of assessments and care plans and ensure all workers receive an "effective management oversight".

Within six months it hopes it can provide sufficient work placements for almost all of its children and give them effective personal education plans.

Labour criticised the Conservative-run authority following the report, saying it had left a "legacy of failures" and that children's services were paying the price for cutbacks at the council.

But Catherine Boardman, Conservative cabinet member for children and education, said: "Given that we are 16 weeks into a two-year improvement programme, this finding is entirely what we expected from the inspection.

"It's clear that inspectors saw there are important foundations for improvement in place and the newly-established senior management team has delivered determined and decisive actions, although these have not yet had enough time to have an impact.

"The improvement agenda is our biggest priority and I'm confident that we have the skills and expertise across all levels of the organisation to deliver."

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