The government has appointed a special commissioner to oversee improvements to the children’s services department at Sunderland City Council.
Nick Whitfield is chief executive of ‘social enterprise’ Achieving for Children, an organisation which provides children’s services to Kingston and Richmond councils.
Earlier this week the local authority became the latest to have its children’s services department declared ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. The inspectorate identified “widespread and serious” failings in the service provided by the department: more than 200 cases were examined during an inspection earlier this year and 21 of these were later referred back to the authority by the inspectors in order “to request that action be taken to ensure children’s needs were met”.
In addition, the inspectors identified a combination of high caseloads per social worker, cases which not been allocated to anyone, an insufficient response to children missing from care and inadequate support for care leavers.
Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw later contacted Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP to request urgent action. The Department for Education has how now written to the authority, stating:
“The Secretary of State is satisfied that the Authority is failing to perform to an adequate standard…”
Read more here.