Somerset children's services still 'inadequate', Ofsted says

Somerset County Council
Image caption Ofsted found no improvement in the care provided by Somerset County Council's Children's Services department since its last inspection in August 2013

The care of vulnerable children in Somerset has again been rated "inadequate" by government inspectors.

Ofsted has found no improvement in the care provided by Somerset County Council's children's services department since its last inspection in June 2013.

The new report, based on an inspection in January, described a "corporate failure" to keep children safe.

The council accepted there was "an important need" to improve services.

The four-week inspection focussed on the care of the most vulnerable children in the county.

They include those who are living with their families but may be at risk of harm, children who have been taken into care and may be living with foster carers, and young people who are old enough to be leaving care.

Ofsted found there were "widespread or serious failures" which cause children to be harmed or at risk of harm.

'Not good enough'

It also identified managers who "have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures" and have been ineffective in "prioritising, challenging and making improvements".

The high turnover of the department's directors was also criticised. Julian Wooster, who was appointed in January, is the fifth director in five years.

Mr Wooster said the outcome of the Ofsted report was "not good enough", and accepted there are "significant issues" that need to be addressed within the council and with its partners.

He apologised and said he was confident some of "the building blocks" were already in place.

The Department for Education has also told the authority to work with Essex County Council, as the Ofsted rating for its children's services department improved from "inadequate" to "good".

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