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NSPCC say Sunderland Council's slow progress in dealing with vulnerable children is 'unacceptable'

A report released today by Ofsted has criticised Sunderland Council's children's services, pointing to major inadequacies in the way it deals with vulnerable children.

The NSPCC has said in a statement that pressures on council budgets should not be used as an excuse for delivering poor services.

The local authority must take urgent action to ensure children at risk of harm get the protection they need. Problems with staffing levels can increase the strain on services but this cannot be an excuse for jeopardising child protection. It is unacceptable that some cases have been caught in a bottleneck for many months.

High quality and effective child protection services are a non-negotiable part of what local authorities must provide and this should include a high level of support for frontline workers. Keeping children safe from harm is everyone’s responsibility, from local communities to councils and statutory agencies and we welcome the council’s development of an improvement plan to improve these services as soon as possible.

– NSPCC Spokesperson

Sunderland Council leader: clearing backlog of cases is main priority

Leader of the Council Paul Watson gave an interview to ITV Tyne Tees in which he accepted the failings in Sunderland Council's children's services highlighted by today's Ofsted report.

The main challenge facing the authority is clearing the large backlog of cases involving children at risk of neglect and abuse.


Children 'being left unsafe' in Sunderland, says Ofsted

A shocking report into children's services in Sunderland has criticised widespread failures and poor leadership.

File photo Credit: PA

The report by Ofsted has said that children are being left unsafe.

Among the areas ruled inadequate are:

  • Child protection
  • Adoption
  • Children in care

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has written to the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, calling for action to be taken as soon as possible.

Big Sing for North East schools

More than three thousand pupils from nearly sixty schools have been performing in this year's Big Sing at the Sage Gateshead.

Joining in the Big Sing at the Sage Gateshead Credit: North News and Pictures

The Big Sing (for 7-16 year olds) and The Big Sing for Mini Singers (for 4-7 year olds) have become annual music events.

Credit: North News and Pictures

This year the music included Our House by Madness, True Colours by Cindy Lauper and We Are The Champions by Queen.

Credit: North News and Pictures

Scheme to encourage reading in hospital

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A scheme designed to encourage reading among children and parents in hospital has been launched in Middlesbrough.

More than 3,000 free reading packs will be handed out to new mums and children who are patients at the James Cook University Hospital.

The project was developed by the National Literacy Trust and the council.


School forced to apologise for telling boy, 6, to remove his hearing aid to 'look smart'

A school has been forced to apologise after telling a six-year-old boy to remove his hearing aid for an official photograph.

The parents of Alfie Durant, who attends Pallister Park Primary, in Middlesbrough, were shocked when he returned home with his school photo that pictured him without the aid.

Alfie, who suffers hearing loss in both ears, told his parents that he had been told to take it off to look smart.

Mother Kerri telephoned the school and was told staff thought she would have wanted the hearing aid taken off for the photo.

She told the Evening Gazette: "He told me the school told him to take it off for the photo so he would look smart.

I feel my son has been discriminated against because of his disability and would like people to know how he is treated."

– Kerri Durant, Alfie's mother
Street view of Pallister Park Primary Credit: Google Maps

Chris Wain, head teacher at the "outstanding" rated school, said it does its very best to ensure parents are always happy with the photos the children take home.

"There was obviously no intent to cause any offence by either any member of our staff or the photographer, and we have already apologised to Alfie's mum for any upset caused," she said.

She went on to say they would be sure to keep Alfie's hearing aid in place for next year's photos.

Special assembly for primary school teacher

A special assembly is taking place this lunchtime to pay tribute to a primary school teacher who died last week.

36 year old Wadud Abdul died during a family half-term trip to a Durham beauty spot on Thursday to celebrate his 36th birthday.

Mr Abdul taught at the Hadrian School in Benwell, where teachers and children are having a special service to remember him.

Imaginarium inspires imaginations at RAF base

The Imaginarium at RAF Leeming. Credit: ITV News

Lights, splashes of colour, and lots of imagination aare brightening the lives of service families in North Yorkshire.

At RAF Leeming, near Bedale, they've created a special room where children can escape the challenges of military life.

The Imaginarium is the first of its kind in the Air Force and it is billed as a space where imaginations can run wild and friendships blossom.

Thomas Hayley and his mother, Tracy, enjoying the Imaginarium. Credit: ITV News

It's really stressful being a military kid, if your parents are away of your Mum or Dad is away, or just even moving camp so often, so we wanted to provide something that is a really calming and relaxing space where parents can bring them."

– Becki Taylor, Community Development Officer, RAF Leeming

As well as boasting a huge interactive screen, there are themed areas and lights for young children or those with additional needs to relax.

There is also space to hold singing and dancing groups.

It has been funded by charity events and a donation from the RAF Benevolent Fund,

We have a lot of time spent in readiness to deploy on operations all around the world and that is really stressful for the families and children, so to give them a place like this, the Imaginarium to come and break out do something very exciting but in a safe, cosseted environment, is really really important."

– Group Captain David Bradshaw, Station Commander
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