PROGRESS to improve BCP Council’s inadequate-rated children’s services is being slowed down by a lack of “sufficient whole council and partnership approach”, Ofsted’s latest report has said. 

Officers from the government inspection department have been keeping a close eye on the council’s children’s services after a damning report in December 2021 found its services to be ‘inadequate’. 

In the latest monitoring report published yesterday, Ofsted inspector Tracey Ledder has found “some” progress has been made since the last inspection. 

But she claimed senior leaders at the authority are “under no illusion” that there is still some way to go to get to a level of service considered good and consistent.

Read more: BCP Council children's services 'inadequate' with kids at risk

In a report, Ms Ledder said: “The local authority and partner agencies, as corporate parents, are not yet fully aligned in working to improve services for care-experienced young people, and this is acting as a brake on the pace of improvement.  

“As a consequence of this lack of a sufficient whole-council and partnership approach, improvement is not yet being achieved in a consistent, timely and systemic way and is not always matched to children’s and young people’s needs and priorities.” 

She noted senior staff at the council have a “commitment” to do better, however “not enough has been achieved against the areas in need of improvement identified” from the last inspection. 

It added: “Senior leaders know the strengths and areas of development required of the service and continue to work towards full implementation of their improvement plan with the support of improvement partners.” 

The last inspection in September, Ofsted's fourth since December 2021, found "significant progress" was made.

Cathi Hadley, BCP Council’s corporate director of children's services, said delivering the best service is “at the heart” of their work and it is “reassuring” too see progress being recognised. 

“We are heading in the right direction, however it is important to recognise that while progress has been made since the last visit, we are under no illusion that there is still much more that needs to be done to reach the level to which we aspire.  

“We are making steady progress and the quality of our social work is improving. In particular, it is pleasing to see that caseloads have reduced significantly since the last inspection. 

“Also, our concerted focus on recruitment and retention of social workers is now making a positive difference and is a vital part of our approach to improving the quality and consistency of our services going forward."

Cllr Richard Burton, portfolio holder for children's services said: “Providing the best support we can for the children who most need it most across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole remains a key priority for this administration. 

“I would like to thank all members of the children’s services team for their hard work and involvement in this improvement journey. I know that to progress from inadequate to good takes time and dedication. 

“This latest Ofsted report shows that our improvement journey remains on course. 

“But we are in no way resting upon our laurels – this improvement journey is not a quick fix and we fully understand that there is still a long way to go before we get where we need to be.”