Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Ofsted rates Doncaster children's services 'poor'

Doncaster Council
The government ordered the takeover of children's services in 2009

Ofsted has found not enough is being done to keep children safe at a South Yorkshire council previously criticised over the deaths of seven children.

Doncaster is one of 12 authorities in England where children's services are deemed to be performing poorly.

In 2009, the government ordered the takeover of children's services after the deaths of seven children in the district through neglect or abuse.

The council said it agreed more needed to be done to improve the service.

In Ofsted's annual assessment for 2010, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert said: "The minority of councils performing poorly were put in this category primarily because they are not doing enough to keep children safe."

She added: "Inadequacies have been identified in their approach to safeguarding children.

"These authorities know where improvements are needed and have plans in place to improve."

Ofsted said other areas of concern for poorly performing authorities were schools not performing well enough and weaknesses in performance management systems and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff.

In March 2009, the government ordered the takeover of Doncaster's children's services after the deaths of seven children between 2004 and 2008.

In April this year, the government announced again it would intervene at the authority after the Audit Commission said it was not being properly run.

It came after the council was criticised over attacks by two brothers in Edlington.

The boys, aged 11 and 12, were given indeterminate sentences for torturing two other boys, aged nine and 11, in the South Yorkshire village last April.

Chris Pratt, the council's director of Children and Young People's Services, said: "We agree with Ofsted's overall view that a lot more needs to be done before services and outcomes for children and young people in Doncaster are consistently good enough."

Mr Pratt said Ofsted had recognised improvements had been made in education, safeguarding, fostering and in strengthening social work and management capacity.

He added: "We still have a long way to go but we are confident of continued and rapid improvements in the services for our children and young people."

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