'Widespread failings' found in Gloucestershire children's services

Gloucestershire County Council, Shire Hall Image copyright Google
Image caption Ofsted said "too many children" were not having their "risks recognised" or were remaining in situations of "actual risk of significant harm for too long"

"Serious and widespread failures" have been found in children's services in Gloucestershire, a watchdog has said.

Ofsted said "too many children" were being left in situations of "risk of significant harm for too long" because dangers were not recognised.

It rated children's services as inadequate and said standards had "deteriorated significantly" since it was last rated inadequate in 2011.

The council admitted it had "fallen short" but has made "major changes".

The report, which covered an inspection period from 27 February to 23 March, said it had "serious concerns" about the services' senior leadership team.

'Culture of bullying'

It said a "lack of management oversight" was leaving children in "situations of risk" and its findings - along with an "unprecedented number of whistleblowing concerns" - showed that management was "failing to protect children and families".

Inspectors found a "significant number" of cases being referred back to the local authority because managers and social workers "failed to identify children at risk" or "respond appropriately to escalating risks in families".

The report also found only 60% of children were risk assessed within an "appropriate timescale", that current systems and processes were "ineffective" and that an "unprecedented number" of staff had raised concerns about a "culture of bullying and blame".

In a statement, the council said it has "changed the leadership team" and "made some major changes in management".

'Not to blame'

"Our social workers do very difficult and complex work - they are not to blame," a spokesperson said.

"The responsibility lies with their leadership and management team and we have taken swift action to deal with this."

Chief Executive Pete Bungard, said it has also brought in "social work specialists" to lead its staff.

"I am sorry that we have not supported our children and their families as quickly as we should have done," he said.

"We will continue to work very closely with the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Local Government Association."

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