It’s four years since the department, run by Kirklees Council, received a damning report from the education watchdog Ofsted.
That 2016 report said services for vulnerable children in Kirklees were “inadequate, due to serious widespread failures which result in some children not being protected or having their needs met.”
Now the Government has announced that the way children and young people are supported in Kirklees has made further “significant progress”.
It has been described as “excellent news”.
The Department for Education (DfE) has praised the continued improvements in local services after an independent review took place earlier this year.
In a letter to the council, it said:
- While there are some ongoing areas for improvement, the review demonstrates significant progress in Kirklees
- Leadership is stable and focused and the workforce is settled and engaged
- There is improved partnership working and a collective commitment across the council to achieve the best possible outcomes for children
- Officials have every confidence that the council will continue to make improvements in services for children
Following the inadequate rating Ofsted began to closely monitor the action being taken in Kirklees.
Following an inspection in the summer of 2019 it praised the “strong and resilient senior leadership” of children’s services in the borough.
And whilst the authority was graded as still requiring improvement in four key areas it was no longer rated inadequate.
The latest announcement means the government will no longer be intervening.
However it will continue to work with the council and offer support where needed.
The decision followed a joint review carried out by the DfE and the Leeds Relational Practice Centre.
Clr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said the letter was “excellent news” and pledged that the council’s pursuit of improvements would continue.
He added: “It’s great news that the DfE has praised our commitment to improving young people’s outcomes. They are confident that we have the skills, leadership and knowledge to build on our progress.
“At the same time, we are not complacent and we will continue to aim higher. Our ambition is for Children’s Services in Kirklees to be judged as outstanding and to be among the very best in the country.”
His colleague Clr Viv Kendrick, the council’s Cabinet member for Children, commented: “Last year’s Ofsted inspection had already highlighted a number of strengths, but this is further proof that we are heading in the right direction.”
Ofsted’s 2016 report revealed that the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board raised the alarm about social work standards in August 2015, prompting then-chief executive Adrian Lythgo to launch an independent review.
A review of 226 cases found 10% were of concern, with urgent action required to help some children.
Since 2014 senior figures in the children’s services team have been replaced.
Children’s Services staff on Kirklees Council worked closely with West Yorkshire Police on its investigation into allegations of historic grooming and child sexual abuse in Huddersfield.
That investigation, dubbed Operation Tendersea, led to the conviction and jailing of 20 men at Leeds Crown Court in 2018.