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Council prioritising further improvements to children’s services

Press Release: 13/02/2024

Tameside Council has pledged to prioritise further improvements to children’s services after an Ofsted inspection published in February 2024 rated them as ‘inadequate’.
The report said too many children were not receiving effective services that meet their needs. However, inspectors highlighted there are areas of the service, such as for children at risk of sexual exploitation, where children do receive interventions that support them effectively and keep them safer.
The report also recognised a new leadership team was appointed in August 2023. Inspectors noted that “since that time, swift and decisive action” is being taken to improve management oversight and raise the quality of social work practice.
Ofsted said the leadership team has already taken “swift action” with the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to restructure the service and increase capacity to protect children.
The report acknowledges the council has a good improvement plan in place and that senior leaders and partners have worked to strengthen the governance of children’s services, including the council’s scrutiny function.
Tameside Council Deputy Executive Leader Cllr Bill Fairfoull, who has responsibility over children and families, said: We accept we must – and we will – do better for our children and young people in Tameside.
“I’m pleased the inspectors have acknowledged that swift and decisive steps have already been taken to address the issues.
“We’re deeply committed to making the necessary changes to improve the quality of practice and have strengthened our approach further since August 2023, working with our partners to focus on practice improvement ensuring that our children are safe.   Ofsted found over the previous four years  ‘there were serious failures that left children being harmed or at risk of harm’ and ’too many children experienced drift and delay and as a result experienced ongoing harm and lived in neglectful situations for too long’.  However at the time of the inspection no children were at immediate risk of harm.
“We’re investing significantly to improve services for children and young people and we’ll keep working at pace, putting children at the heart of what we do.”
Tameside Council Executive Leader, Cllr Gerald Cooney said; “We acknowledge and accept this judgement from Ofsted and it’s our absolute priority to continue to improve services for our children and families. We were already aware of the concerns highlighted in the report by Ofsted as we brought them to their attention ourselves in August 2023 when we took steps to bring in new leadership. I have ensured recent changes were made and will ensure any further necessary changes are put in place to address the issues both ourselves and Ofsted have identified.
“I am confident that we have the right leadership team in place in the service with a clear focus on what needs to be done, and I’m pleased Ofsted acknowledged we have the right leadership team in place and a robust improvement plan.
“I’m whole-heartedly determined we are going to get this right and give our children and young people the quality of service they need and deserve.”
Tameside Council Chief Executive, Sandra Stewart said; “Soon after my appointment as Chief Executive in December 2022 concerns about the progress of some areas for improvement started to emerge and so in June 2023 I commissioned an independent service diagnostic assessment.  This was completed promptly, enabling us to make some significant improvements from August 2023 onwards. I’m pleased Ofsted noted a more robust oversight at a senior leadership level, and that we were able to provide a swift protective response to the significant weaknesses in the front door that the diagnostics team identified. I will of course continue to vigorously review all aspects of children’s services to monitor and manage the ongoing improvements needed.”  
Tameside Council Director of Children’s Services Allison Parkinson, who came into post in August 2023 as part of changes to the leadership team, said: "I am sorry that children's services in Tameside are not currently at the standard they should be, we are working hard to deliver the improvements required to ensure that children receive the right support at the right time.  There is more to do but we are absolutely committed to supporting children and their families.”

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