The new year sees some good news for children’s services in Leeds with the announcement that the government has lifted the improvement notice served on the city council in 2010.
The decision was announced in a letter from Tim Loughton, Under Secretary of State for Children and Families to the leader of the council, Cllr Keith Wakefield.
The improvement notice was served in March 2010 following an inspection when children’s services in the city were rated as “inadequate.”
An improvement board was put in place to monitor progress and in October an Ofsted report found that Leeds had made considerable improvements in its services for vulnerable and at risk children.
The inspectors reported that five of the nine measures they assessed were now “good” with the other four rated “adequate.” None were inadequate.
Now, following a review meeting with the Department for Education and recommendations from the independent chair of the improvement board, Bill McCarthy, the notice has been lifted.
In his letter, Mr Loughton says he was pleased to hear of the significant improvements that had been achieved and the clear plans for a continued focus on safeguarding children and young people in Leeds.
The letter continues:
“Overall, in the light of the commitment Leeds City Council has shown, the improvements made to date and Ofsted’s judgement that safeguarding services are now adequate with some good elements and the progress in some of the focussed aspects of educational attainment identified in the improvement notice, I am confirming that I no longer consider the improvement notice to be necessary and am lifting this with immediate effect.”
The letter says that there are areas for improvement but recognises that there are plans in place to address these. It particularly calls upon the council to do more to address the issue of underperforming schools.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services said:
“This is great news for Leeds and I’d like to thank everyone from the council and from our partner agencies, who have worked so hard to improve services for vulnerable children and young people. It is good to have this progress acknowledged.
“However, we have said many times that our improvements this year are only laying the foundations for what we want to achieve in Leeds.
“ That is why we have started our campaign to make the whole of Leeds a child-friendly city and why we have launched our Education Challenge to help schools raise standards and share good practice. “
Tim Loughton’s letter will be presented to the council’s executive board on January 4th
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Annie Goodyear Leeds City Council press office (0113) 2243937