Coventry pledges rapid improvements after Ofsted deems it ‘inadequate’

Council says problems have arisen from 46% rise in caseloads over past two years but vows to improve

Ofsted has branded Coventry council inadequate in children’s social care after an inspection identified high caseloads and poor management at the authority.

The inspection report said excessive caseloads meant staff cannot do their job properly and that a lack of robust management meant managers did not know if all children have been seen and assessed.

It also found work with care leavers was not up to scratch and a failure to complete private fostering assessments promptly.

Further criticisms included a lack of timely sharing of information about domestic violence between social care and the police, and too many children being placed for adoption without life story work taking place.

Ofsted said the council must assess new referrals more swiftly and give social workers more quality time with children so that they fully understand their needs.

The inspection will add to pressures on the West Midlands authority, after significant failings were identified in its handling of the case of Daniel Pelka, who was murdered by his mother and stepfather in 2012.

Ofsted also ruled that Coventry Local Safeguarding Children Board was performing inadequately.

Reacting to Ofsted’s verdict, the council promised a “rapid improvement” in the quality of children’s social work. The council also said it intends to spend a further £5.6m on children’s social services in the next 12 months.

“There is no hiding from the fact that the report’s overall findings are disappointing but many of the problems we face, particularly in the frontline of children’s social care, are down to the fact of the unprecedented volume of work, which continues to increase,” said councillor George Duggins, the authority’s lead member for children’s services.

“As the Ofsted report reflects, the findings are not a verdict on the staff who are working extremely hard in the face of ever increasing workloads and their passion, commitment and dedication cannot be questioned.

“We have already responded to this challenge by adding another team of social workers and we have funding to add more as part of the additional £5.6m for children’s social work because as a council safeguarding is one of our highest priorities.”

The council added that it had experienced a 46% rise in caseloads in the past two years.

The Department for Education said the Coventry was not improving fast enough and it was now considering what further action may be needed.

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