Herefordshire Council confirms publication of its Ofsted inspection of Local Authority Children's Services 2022

Herefordshire Council has today confirmed publication of its Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services 2022. We fully accept the findings of the report and would like to thank Ofsted for their support, consideration and professionalism throughout the inspection. A copy of the Ofsted report can be viewed here.

Paul Walker, Chief Executive said:

“While unsurprising, the change in Ofsted rating from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Inadequate’, is upsetting and disappointing for all of us working hard to improve Herefordshire Children’s Services. I’m sorry for the failures outlined by Ofsted – children and families deserve better. Since the inspection we have urgently reviewed all the cases highlighted by Ofsted and have identified a number of immediate actions to address the issues raised. Many of the issues are long-standing and sustained improvement will take time. While we have more than halved caseloads for social workers to around 18 today and are responding more quickly to families who need our help, there is still a lot more we need to do. Our three-year plan and significant additional investment will ensure we build a service we can all be proud of. We will be working more closely with families, the community and with our partners in health services and the Police to help us improve.”

Cllr Diana Toynbee, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

“This is a hard-hitting report and I really feel for all those children and families we have let down. We know our Children’s Services need to improve and I am doing everything I can to speed up changes for children and families. A new management team is now in place and we are launching a ‘Listening to Families Forum’, to not only listen but to make sure we use what we learn to improve our services. We must listen to people when they raise a concern, and work together to provide the best support for children and families, and this is what I’m committed to.”

Darryl Freeman, Director of Children’s Services said:

“This is a disappointing and upsetting report and on behalf of colleagues across the service I want to say sorry to children and families who have not received the support that they deserved.  The challenges in our children’s services are long-standing and deep-rooted but we have a clear vision of the service we want to create. The inspectors recognised the dedication and commitment of so many of our staff who are trying to do their best for children. We are already working hard to put things right and to ensure that the improvements that we’ve started to introduce really make a difference for children and young people.”

Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader Herefordshire Council said:

“It was very disappointing as Leader of the Council to receive this report. We accept Ofsted’s findings and recognise that we have not made improvements in our children’s services quickly enough. We have appointed a new permanent leadership team which is already driving change. Many of the issues are long-standing and the improvements needed will take time. We are committed to making the changes needed to make a difference for children and families and have a three year plan and have agreed an additional investment of £22million to support this.”

Herefordshire Council welcomes the Children’s Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, to support us as we continue to improve our Children’s Services. She will bring additional oversight and a wealth of experience to our work to improve the service and ensure that children and families of Herefordshire get the support they deserve.

Herefordshire Council’s Cabinet will receive the report at their meeting on 29 September and the Chief Executive has called a meeting of Extra-ordinary Full Council on Friday 30 September. The agenda for these meetings will be published on the council website.


Published: 21st September 2022