Gloucestershire children's services concern 'not heard'

Mark Hawthorne
Image caption Leader Mark Hawthorne said the council needed to make sure it "doesn't happen again"

"Serious and widespread" failures in children's services identified in an Ofsted report were not dealt with, a council leader has admitted.

Conservative Mark Hawthorne said while Gloucestershire County Council knew of a number of issues, it "wasn't hearing what was happening on the frontline".

Ofsted rated children's services as "inadequate" and said standards had "deteriorated significantly".

Mr Hawthorne said it needed to make sure it "doesn't happen again".

The report, published in June, highlighted "serious and widespread failures" in the service, and said "too many children" were being left in situations of "risk of significant harm for too long", because dangers were not recognised.

'Replacing management team'

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

The director of children's services and three of her deputies have since been removed from their posts and the authority has pledged an independent review.

"Part of rebuilding the confidence of frontline staff... is by replacing the senior management team who will now be reviewing everything everything we do in children's services to make sure we have a culture that is about putting children at the very heart of the decisions that we take," Mr Hawthorne said.

"We're also setting up an independent whistle-blowing process - that didn't work in the past.

"Those who were highlighting issues and concerns on the frontline, their voices weren't being heard at the top of the organisation.

"What we weren't hearing... was the concerns on the frontline from social workers... the issue around case drift, and some of those decisions not being taken in a timely manner," he added.

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