DfE ends intervention in ‘inadequate’ children’s services following progress

Minister follows recommendation of DfE-appointed commissioner to remove statutory direction for Hull, in wake of third positive Ofsted visit

Skyline view of Hull Guildhall (credit: Paul Lakin / Wikimedia Commons)
Hull (credit: Paul Lakin / Wikimedia Commons)

The government has ended its intervention in an ‘inadequate’ children’s services on the recommendation of its appointed commissioner after he found it had improved.

The Department for Education (DfE) lifted Hull council’s statutory direction, replacing it with a non-statutory improvement notice, under which it will continue to track the Yorkshire authority’s progress.

In a letter to Hull’s chief executive, Matt Jukes, this week, children’s minister Brendan Clarke-Smith said commissioner Paul Moffat had identified improvements in a report in January and found this had continued over the subsequent six months.

As a result, Moffat had recommended the DfE remove him as commissioner and end the requirement for the council to work with a government-appointed troubleshooter, which Clarke-Smith accepted.

The move follows a positive report from Ofsted in its fifth monitoring visit to Hull since delivering an ‘inadequate’ verdict at the authority’s last inspection in 2019.

Following the visit in March, Ofsted said that “skilled” staff were “providing greatly improved support to care leavers”, and felt “extremely well supported” by managers, on the back of significant investment from a “stable and determined leadership team”.

This was the council’s third consecutive positive monitoring visit, marking a significant turnaround from the situation at the start of 2020 when Ofsted uncovered a severe deterioration in the quality of services for children in care.

Need to focus on cutting agency staff numbers

However, despite the progress since then, Clarke-Smith said that, in issuing an improvement notice, he was making clear that there was “still some distance for the council to travel” and that DfE oversight continued to be necessary.

The notice said that the council should continue to focus particularly on reducing reliance on agency social workers, investing in practitioners’ learning and development, ensuring assessment timescales are met, listening to children and families and tackling the number of children in care.

The DfE will carry out progress checks at least every six months, it said.


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One Response to DfE ends intervention in ‘inadequate’ children’s services following progress

  1. Tom J August 8, 2022 at 12:06 pm #

    I note that Hull is still not ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ so maybe we need someone to intervene to take over the DfE?