Doncaster Council is expected to be rated inadequate in its latest Ofsted inspection of children’s safeguarding, to be published later this morning.
The troubled council was thought to be turning a corner last year when it achieved an adequate rating in its last inspection of children’s services. However, this year Ofsted has toughened up its inspection criteria, following the Munro Review of child protection in England.
Bridget Robb, acting chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said any assessment of social work in Doncaster needed to take into account the fact that workers suffered “draconican conditions within a bullying culture”.
“Staff there were recently issued with a ‘signed or be sacked’ ultimatum to accept cuts to their pay and conditions, so it is no surprise that Doncaster has problems recruiting and retaining staff, and has subsequently been downgraded by Ofsted.”
She said the situation was exacerbated by the fact that child protection workers across the country were not getting enough time to see children.
“Excessive bureaucracy, deep cuts to support staff and rising caseloads mean that few local authorities in England can say their social workers operate in a suitably safe and acceptable environment.
“Social workers are already at the front line, they know the problems, and they know the solutions, but their voice is still being overlooked by ministers in favour of advice from highly paid consultants, who often lack both experience and expertise.
“We hope that any reforms in Doncaster will properly consult with frontline social workers and enlist their support, rather than be presented as another dictat imposed on an already beleaguered workforce,” she added.
More to come.
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