Birmingham & Black Country

Sandwell children's services dubbed 'inadequate' by Ofsted again

Councillor Simon Hackett
Image caption Councillor Simon Hackett said he was "deeply disappointed" with the rating but would not resign

Children remain at risk of harm in Sandwell due to inadequate children's services, a watchdog has said.

The authority also "does not fully understand the scale and prevalence of child sexual exploitation", Ofsted said following an inspection.

The rating echoes a report in April 2013, which prompted a boss and a council cabinet member to quit.

Children's services councillor Simon Hackett ruled out resigning. Three out of five areas rated by Ofsted improved.

'Struggling to understand'

The report found: "There are widespread and serious failures that create or leave children being harmed or at risk of harm.

"Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements."

"We're deeply disappointed," said Mr Hackett.

"We've worked on recommendations from the last report and struggle to see how Ofsted can come to this conclusion."

Progress since the last inspection included a new multi-agency safeguarding hub - bringing social workers, police and health professionals under one roof, relying less on agency workers and recruiting permanent managers. The council also said it had reduced caseloads for each worker.

The council was working with late-night fast food outlets, taxi firms and hotels to help spot child exploitation, Mr Hackett said.

Social work Professor Ray Jones, appointed by the education secretary to advise Sandwell's turnaround months after the last critical report, disagreed with the rating.

He said: "I am especially impressed, as are others, with the recent progress which has been made to tackle CSE.

"It is of considerable concern this progress is not recognised by Ofsted."

The council disputed the rating with Ofsted but its representations made no difference, said Mr Hackett.

The Labour-run council was also served with an improvement notice after services were rated inadequate in 2009.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites