30 March 2012

"We take seriously Ofsted’s findings in the inspection and we accept their judgement. While we are concerned and disappointed by the judgement, we are confident we will improve this important service quickly. We have already started this work and believe that we can meet the recommendations within a matter of months.

"Some findings are about technical issues and were resolved while the inspector was still on site. Some of the more substantive issues are being addressed as part of a comprehensive action plan.

"We are pleased that Ofsted recognises that children are safe in Northamptonshire; that pre-adoption training is rigorous and that children who are adopted in Northamptonshire are more likely to have a successful adoption than the national average. In fact, we know that Northamptonshire’s adoption break-down rate is half the national average.

"We had already recognised areas that needed to be improved in the service and prior to the inspection had made changes. While the report points to the impact of organisational change, it was that change which gave us the opportunity to see the extent to which improvements were needed. In short, our organisational change revealed the problems rather than caused them. Consequently, we already have a new management team in place to drive forward these improvements.

"It has been well documented that in recent years that we have been more proactive in addressing neglect, with the result that we have a larger number of children subject to child protection plans and more children for whom adoption is seen as the best option. In the course of the inspection, Ofsted observed that this has led to stretched capacity in the team. We have already increased capacity in the team to resolve this.

"The Ofsted inspector also recognised that timescales for achieving adoption for children have improved over the last year and that she felt the journey to improvement was such that had the inspection taken place in six months time she would have seen a very different picture.

"We are on a significant journey as an organisation as we have to change to meet our current and future challenges. But in doing this it is vital we ensure we are still delivering the right services for our most vulnerable. The steps we have taken show our commitment to this and we are determined to get this right."

Charlie MacNally
Director of Adult and Children's Services
Northamptonshire County Council