Major turnaround revealed as Doncaster children's services rated as 'good'

Government minister Nadhim Zahawi with staff and young people from Doncaster Children's Services Trust
Government minister Nadhim Zahawi with staff and young people from Doncaster Children's Services Trust

Less then three years ago, Doncaster's children's services were seen as failing - but today they are rated by officials as good

With a backdrop of a number of child deaths, the Government stripped the service from council control, and set up a new arms length trust to take over in 2013.

The Government began supervising children’s services in the borough 2009 following the deaths of seven children in the borough through abuse or neglect over five years

Less than a year later a serious case review found the attacks in Edlington in which two young boys were tortured by two brothers, aged 11 and 12, had been ‘preventable’.

But now things are different - and this week Ofsted acknowledged the transformation of the service by rating it as 'good' in its latest Ofsted report.

It is a transformation which follows the service's ratings of inadequate in 2015.

Today, Ofsted upgraded the service, describing in its report 'significant changes in the quality of support for children in Doncaster'.

In a report which follows an inspection in November, it stated: "The trust is highly effective in developing a culture for good social work to flourish. As a result, the quality of social work is a good and is supported by a well embedded model of social work practice"

Previously concerns were raised about the large number of agency workers and the high staff turnover. But now, social workers were described as reported good morale, and enjoying their work with supportive bosses.

And it stated that children were listened to.

Support for care leavers is now also described as good.

Govermment minister for children and families, Nadhim Zahawi addressed the trust's staff to congratulate them on the improvements they had made at an event held at the Legacy Centre on Shaw Wood Way to mark the Ofsted report.

He said: "Clearly there is much for staff to be proud of. It is you hard work and focus that has delivered a real turnaround for Doncaster children's services. We in the department set very significant and challenging tasks for you to break the legacy of failure and drive up quality. to improve the life chances of those who are most vulnerable in our society and under the close scrutiny of Ofsted

"Thank you for rising to the challenge, thank you for breaking that cycle of failure and thank you for making sure that children in Doncaster can now rely on a much improved service..It truly is humbling to stand before you as the minister and meet such a dedicated group of people.

He descirbed the work of the department and its staff as incredible and described them as a beacon of how authorities could work together.

He said staff had told him stability and access to the senior leadership was key to improvements. as chief executive Paul Moffat and his team were accessible to staff and when they took issues to leadership teams decisions were made and action taken, leading to social workers feeling appreciated and listened to.

Staff have moved from temporary contracts to permanent positions.

Under previous arrangements, he said staff had told him they seldom saw the leaders.

Staff director on the trust Ben Brown, said that three years ago a member of staff had been out with a party from the service, and had said where the group was from. They were booed. But when a similar situation occurred last year, they were cheered.

The trust runs six children's homes, a voluntary adoption agency and an indepenent fostering agency. In October, there were 550 looked after children in Doncaster.

In the last council Ofsted, it was judged inadequate for help and protection services, and requiring improvement for services to children looked after, experiences of care leavers, leadership, management and governance.