Northamptonshire County Council has issued the following statement in response to today's publication of an Ofsted inspection report into services for looked after children.
Councillor Catherine Boardman, cabinet member for children and education, said:
“Given that we are 16 weeks into a two-year improvement programme, this finding is entirely what we expected from the inspection.
“We were aware that the improvement programme was not advanced enough to provide the evidence the inspectors needed for any other outcome. What we wanted to get out of the inspection was an acknowledgement that there was evidence of change in the right direction.
“This inspection has served as an opportunity to take stock of where we are on the improvement journey.
“It’s clear that inspectors saw there are important foundations for improvement in place, and the newly-established senior management team has delivered determined and decisive actions, although these have not yet had enough time to have an impact.
“We do not underestimate the scale of the task we are undertaking, in turning round a legacy of poor management, practice and partner agency engagement.
“Inspectors found that our priorities are clear, we have a good level of self awareness, and the improvement agenda is strengthened by strong political support.
“The report highlights that many essential areas of work are carried out effectively. The decisions we make in taking children in care are appropriate and timely and all of our children’s homes are good or outstanding. There are other pockets of good practice for us to look at and build on.
Working with partners
“Crucially, inspectors raised concerns about the pace of progress in the multi-agency element of the work in this area. We know that child protection is not confined to the council and there are many other agencies and organisations involved in the delivery of services to our looked after children.
"We are committed to working with our partners and the LSCBN to ensure that they share our vigour in undertaking the necessary improvements in their own practices and their multi-agency work.
“The report contains no surprises for us. The improvement agenda is our biggest priority and I’m confident that we have the skills and expertise across all levels of the organisation to deliver.”
A copy of the inspection report is available on Ofsted's website.