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Vulnerable children could be at risk - Ofsted's verdict on Manchester's children's services

inspectors have found children's services in Manchester are inadequate, leaving vulnerable children potentially at risk.

In June, Ofsted found a backlog of almost 500 cases waiting to be assessed by social workers, with staff unable to prioritise high case loads.

The council accepts it needs to make improvements and says it is taking action to ease staff workloads.

Elaine Willcox reports.

Watchdog says Manchester children's services are inadequate

Inspectors have found Manchester's children's services are inadequate leaving vulnerable children potentially at risk.

In June, Ofsted found a backlog of 486 cases waiting to be assessed by social workers, with staff unable to prioritise high case loads.

The council says it has now cleared that backlog.

Mike Livingstone is Director of Manchester's Children's Services.

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Watchdog judges Manchester's children's services to be inadequate

Manchester Town Hall Credit: PA

The children's services and education watchdog Ofsted has found Manchester's children's services to be inadequate.

The department was criticised for the way it deals with children who need help and protection, adoption and the management and leadership in Children's services

The watchdog found:

  • 486 cases left waiting a long time for assessment leaving children unseen and at potential risk
  • Quality assurance and management oversight is not robust
  • High social workers' case load mean children and families are not receiving a good quality service
  • Children particularly black children are waiting too long to be adopted
  • Mistakes made in child sexual exploitation processes are not learnt from.

Go Fishing - Environment Agency tells schools

Credit: Smithills School

Schools in the North West are being encouraged by the Environment Agency and Angling Trust to offer pupils the chance to try fishing.

Fishing has proven health, social and educational benefits and can help pupils improve personal skills such as communication, concentration and discipline.

One school in the North West is already leading the way - Smithills School in Bolton has set up its own angling club and has a school team that competes with other clubs at weekends.

Click here for more about getting involved in fishing

Credit: Environment Agency

Pianist shocked at internet success

A young man who's become an internet sensation thanks to his piano playing says he's shocked at what's happened. John Riley, who's from Huyton , was filmed playing in Liverpool. The footage was posted online and went viral. John, who works as a hospital cleaner, told Granada Reports he can't believe the response.

John gave a special performance for Granada Reports.

Mixed reaction to changes to special needs education

There is a mixed reaction to plans for one of the biggest shake ups to special needs education for 30 years which has already been on trial in Wigan.

In future a child with special needs won't get a statement - instead there will be an individual plan which includes education, health and care.

The idea is to give parents more control - which is being welcomed.

But there are also fears it could put main stream schools off taking children with special needs because of the costs involved.

Dan Hewitt reports.

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Changes to special education

The government has planned a series of reforms for the special educational needs or (SEN) sector in England.
Its been described by some commentators as the biggest shake up to happen for 30 years. Changes include giving parents more control over how money is spent on SEN budgets and ensuring there are good links between the children's education, health and social care. Wigan was chosen as a pilot area for the changes. Some critics have suggested parents haven't been kept informed. But Joanne Platt, from Wigan council says listening to parents has been a vital part of the whole project.

Seven-year-old boy gets A* GCSE in Maths

Thomas Barnes from Leigh Credit: Manchester Evening News

A seven-year-old schol boy from Leigh has become one of the youngest people ever to get an A* GCSE grade.

The home-schooled boy genius, Thomas Barnes, was awarded the grade in maths after taking an exam with students more than twice his age.

The youngster, who also loves science, now plans to study physics and chemistry.

Thomas's father, Simon, 41, told the Manchester Evening News:

“We are very proud of Thomas, the future is bright for him. He has done this on his own, with only our help.

Other than that, he’s a normal kid who plays video games."

– Simon Barnes
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