Children’s secretary Ed Balls has declined to order further intervention in Haringey Council, despite Ofsted finding it had made “limited progress” in safeguarding since the furore over the baby Peter case.
In a letter to council leader Claire Kober, Balls said the authority and its partners would face a further inspection by January 2010 and he would continue to require monthly reports on progress from director of children’s services Peter Lewis.
But Balls acknowledged that Ofsted’s review of progress in the north London borough, published today, had found improvements in certain areas, including “decisive action in dealing with underperforming staff”.
‘Build on foundations’
Despite Ofsted finding that there was only “limited” capacity to improve in the borough, Balls added: “Haringey must now build on these foundations to accelerate improvements to secure improved results on the front line to keep children safe.”
The independent chair of the borough’s safeguarding children board, Graham Badman, said today’s report marked “the first stage in the transformation of Haringey services”.
Starting from low base
Badman, appointed by Balls in the wake of last December’s damning joint area review into safeguarding in the borough, said: “It presents some real challenges to the council and its partner agencies but recognises that against the background of a very low base, poor staff morale and many staff vacancies, that improvements have been made in a relatively short time.
“It calls for the consolidation and dissemination of good practice to secure children’s safety and support. I am confident that on the basis of the inter-agency work in recent months that all services will rise to that challenge.”
However, the Liberal Democrat opposition to the Labour-run council criticised the lack of progress.
Group leader Robert Gorrie said: “The council has made only limited progress in addressing the areas of weakness and worryingly the capacity to improve is reported as limited. This is an unacceptable situation.”
“The inspection shows Haringey’s Children’s Services was in a significantly worse state at the beginning of this year than council leaders previously understood or admitted.”
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