Welsh Government Ministers Leighton Andrews and Carl Sargeant have issued a statement giving their response to a report by Estyn and the Wales Audit Office on child protection services in Pembrokeshire County Council.
In the statement, they confirm that the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board will remain in place to ensure continued support in relation to improving safeguarding in the authority and to help in any transition to new support arrangements when these are agreed.
These reports give clear continued cause for concern highlighting that Pembrokeshire Council’s deficiencies are putting services in the local authority at unacceptable risk. If the Council cannot address these issues, then we will.
– Leighton Andrews, Education Minister
Given the unacceptable nature of the situation our priority must be to put in place adequate support and challenge to realise improvements as quickly as possible. This must address the wider issues and improve the corporate position of the authority. It will also need to ensure that improvements and changes being introduced in relation to safeguarding and educational outcomes for children and young people are implemented quickly and have a real impact on the ground.
A Welsh council is facing two separate demands for intervention over how it safeguards some of the most vulnerable children in its communities.
The education inspectors Estyn have issued a damming report on the leadership of services in Pembrokeshire. They say the authority should be put into special measures.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General for Wales says his team have found a "a lack of progress" in safeguarding children. That's despite a series of scathing reports in the past, as Owain Phillips reports.
Pembrokeshire Council should be placed in special measures, according to the education watchdog, Estyn.
A report by the education inspectorate says there are shortcomings in leadership of the authority's education services.
The Wales Audit office also says the underlying issues with previous problems haven't been tackled by the Council, as Owain Phillips reports.
Pembrokeshire Council should be placed in special measures, according to a report by education watchdog, Estyn. It follows a report into education services in the local authority.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s education services for children and young people have been judged to be unsatisfactory in an Estyn report published today. As a result of this report, Estyn has recommended to Welsh Ministers that the authority be placed in the category of an authority requiring special measures.
The ‘Report on the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire County Council’ identifies important shortcomings in leadership of the authority’s education services. It states that corporate leaders and senior elected members have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding and to change the culture in, and improve, education services. The report also finds that the authority’s arrangements for supporting and challenging schools are not robust enough and have not had enough impact on improving outcomes.
The report follows up on a similar inspection of education services in Pembrokeshire carried out in June 2011, which recommended that Pembrokeshire was placed in the category of being in need of significant improvement.
The leader of Pembrokeshire County Council has written to ministers after the Welsh Government gave it an ultimatum over concerns at how it safeguards children.
In the letter, Councillor Jamie Adams promised a "wide-ranging" investigation into allegations that disruptive children had been locked in padded rooms at the Pupil Referral Unit.
He said that there had been "a marked improvement" in improving the level of scrutiny within the council, and encouraging council officers and front line staff to air their concerns.
– Councillor Jamie Adams, leader of Pembrokeshire County Council
Already I have observed a change in the Authority's culture, the strengthening of our safeguarding policies and procedures and a change in the approach of our senior officers.
I would like to place on record my admiration for our front-line staff who deliver, on a daily basis, critical services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire. The environment in which they work in challenging, and yet they consistently achieve good outcomes for the children who need our support.
The Welsh Government have responded to the meeting held with Pembrokeshire Council today. Ministers stood by their joint statement and letter to the leader yesterday and reiterated their strength of feeling about the situation in Pembrokeshire.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
There remain serious questions to answer about what has happened and the subsequent response of the local authority and its officers.
Additionally, we understand new material has come to light within the last 24 hours which has today been passed to the police.
The prime and overarching concern of the Welsh Government throughout all of this remains the safeguarding of children in Pembrokeshire. This is absolutely paramount.