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.
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.
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A shocking report into children's services in Sunderland has criticised widespread failures and poor leadership.
The report by Ofsted has said that children are being left unsafe.
Among the areas ruled inadequate are:
- Child protection
- Children in care
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Councillor Brenda Thompson said she accepted Ofsted's report, which said Middlesbrough Council needs to take urgent action to improve opportunities for school pupils.
She said that although the inspection took place at the end of January 2014, it largely reflected a bad set of results the year before, and that the council has made changes this year that should help schools to make progress.
More than half of secondary school pupils in Middlesbrough go to a school rated less than good, according to Ofsted. It says pupils' performance at every stage is below the national average, and children fall further behind the older they get.
Inspectors are warning the authority to take urgent action to improve opportunities for pupils.
Lucy Taylor reports.
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald says there is a need for improvement in the town's secondary schools.
Middlesbrough Council has released a statement following criticism from Ofsted. An Ofsted inspection was carried out from January 27 to January 31, 2014, during which support was found to be ineffective.
“It is disappointing that Ofsted found the authority’s arrangements for supporting school improvement to be ineffective.
“The need to improve support to schools has already been recognised within the authority, which led to the creation of the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership.
“What is important now is that we continue to implement the improvements we have ourselves recognised through MAP and to incorporate those highlighted by Ofsted.
“The report outlines six areas where swift action is necessary and these have already been made a priority to be acted on."
“We are confident that the direction we are taking with our school heads and governors will lead to significant improvement in results for our children.
“Therefore our children can be assured that we remain determined and resolute to give them the best education that we can.
“In recent years, schools in Middlesbrough have achieved a steady increase in standards of attainment.
“Therefore to get the best outcomes possible for the children and young people of Middlesbrough, we recognise the need to increase the pace of improvement in partnership with all schools and academies in the town.”