Commissioner appointed to oversee council’s inadequate children’s services

By William Eichler | 27 August 2019

The Government has appointed a commissioner to improve Medway Council’s children’s services after Ofsted rated them inadequate.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has appointed Eleanor Brazil as commissioner for children’s services at the local authority.

He said that the Ofsted inspection last month had satisfied him that the council was ‘failing to perform to an adequate standard’.

In response, Medway said it ‘fully accepted’ all the areas of improvement proposed by the inspectors, although council leader Alan Jarrett said he was ‘surprised’ by Ofsted’s judgement.

Cllr Jarrett said: ‘Medway has come a long way over the years and residents remain at the heart of everything we do so this news is hugely disappointing.

‘I am particularly surprised by this outcome as we have invested significant additional resources within the service and carried out extensive preparation in readiness for the inspection so I was led to believe that we would retain or improve our previous grading.’

Medway said it had ‘already started’ to address the feedback in the Ofsted report by appointing eight new social workers and improving the process for reviewing each case.

A new improvement action plan is also being created that will be published in the autumn.

Cllr Jarrett continued: ‘Supporting our most vulnerable residents remains a top priority and I will ensure that we continue to act with urgency on the recommendations made by Ofsted to ensure that Medway’s children in need of help and protection receive the service they deserve.'

He noted that part of the problem was the financial pressures that councils were currently facing.

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