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Cornwall's Children Services Out Of Special Measures

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 4:31pm 11th April 2013 (Updated 4:52pm 11th April 2013)

The department in charge of looking after Cornwall's most vulnerable children has come out of special measures.

The intervention was put in place in 2009, after Ofsted inspectors carried out spot-checks into the way young people at risk from harm were being protected.

Now the government has written to Cornwall Council's social services, praising a string of improvements.

The Right Honourable Edward Timpson MP, the Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, has confirmed that the Department no longer considered it necessary for the intervention to remain in place and he was, therefore, revoking the Direction with immediate effect.

"It is clear from the recent Ofsted inspection and the report from Lucy de Groot, chair of Cornwall's Improvement Board, that the Council has made good progress in addressing the issues raised in Ofsted's 2009 and 2011 inspections.  This represents a significant improvement in child protection social work practice and I want to acknowledge the hard work of Council staff and those in partner organisations in bringing this about. "

In his letter Mr Timpson also supports the positive comments made by Ofsted inspectors about the role played by the Director of Children's Services Trevor Doughty and the Head of Service Jack Cordery in transforming services and concludes that he is confident that the authority can address the areas for further development identified in the report and make even more progress.

"Having considered the evidence from the inspection, progress reports from the Improvement Board chair and advice from my officials, I am confirming that I no longer consider it necessary for the Direction to remain in place and am revoking it with immediate effect.  I congratulate you on the progress made to date and look forward to hearing of continued improvement in the months to come".

Welcoming the Government's decision to revoke the intervention, the Council's Interim Chief Executive Paul Masters said: "This is another major milestone for the Council and its partners.  Everyone has worked extremely hard to address the issues identified in previous inspections.  The judgement in the Ofsted report and the  announcement that we now have been removed from intervention is testament to the partnership between Members and officers to achieve our goal of becoming one of the best children's services in the country.

"The official removal of the Direction does not mark an end to this hard work.  We know that we still have more work to do and I am pleased to see the positive comments from the Minister expressing confidence in the Council's ability and commitment to achieve these further improvements."  

Children's Services Director Trevor Doughty added: "I am delighted that the Council has received such a positive letter from the Minister. As I said when the inspection report was published, this is a tremendous testament to the work of front line staff and their immediate supervisors. All of us involved in working with vulnerable children in Cornwall are determined to build on this achievement and improve further".

Lucy de Groot, who chaired the Improvement Board, has also welcomed the comments from the Minister which, she said, reflected her own views on the improvements which had been made in children's social care services in Cornwall: "I am very impressed with the progress Cornwall has made. It should not be underestimated just how serious the deficiencies were in 2009 and the report at the time was rightly damning. The improvement, as the Ofsted inspectors said, has been huge and I congratulate everyone involved.

"As Chair of the Improvement Board I know what a challenging task it is to get out of intervention and the amount of work still involved. We now need to go on from here to build an outstanding service for children working across all agencies.  I know there is the ambition and drive in Cornwall to achieve this."

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