Staffordshire drops appeal over children’s services review score

One of the three councils to appeal against their joint area review score for children’s services has withdrawn its action.

Staffordshire Council, which was among the first eight local authorities to undergo a joint area review, originally appealed, as did Calderdale and Stoke, on being notified of its results.

But now the council has withdrawn its challenge and the results of its review and annual performance assessment have been published.

The review rated the council’s social care services for children as inadequate and the authority was awarded grade two out of a possible four in the performance assessment.

Ofsted and the council refused to comment on the nature of the appeal or why it had been withdrawn.

Staffordshire’s social care star rating – one – has now been published, together with those of Enfield, Bournemouth, Wirral, Slough and Herefordshire. Their ratings were also not initially published as they were part of the first round of joint area reviews.

Herefordshire Council’s rating fell for the second year in a row, from one star to zero.

The council’s director of children’s services, Sue Fiennes, said the impact of the area review’s “staying safe” judgement – on which Herefordshire’s children’s services were found to be inadequate – on its star rating had caused the fall to zero stars. It received poorer star-rating judgements on children’s services in 2005 compared with 2004.

Fiennes said: “We have concerns about the area review judgement transferring directly to the Commission for Social Care Inspection star rating as it does not take account of other solid areas of performance in relation to children at risk.

“However, the improvement effort will go into our systems so we can better evidence impact and that we are definitely not missing children at risk.”

She said the review had also found good social work practice, good support for looked-after children and no unsafe practice.

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