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23 OCT 2009

Cornwall Council apologises following damning Ofsted report

Following a damming report by Ofsted condemning children's services in Cornwall as "inadequate", the Cornwall authorities have issued a joint statement to apologise.

Cornwall's corporate director for children, schools and families, Dean Ashton, resigned this month ahead of the report's publication.

Cornwall Council, NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Devon and Cornwall Police, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Safeguarding Children Board said in a joint statement: "We would like to apologise to the children, young people and families in Cornwall who are failing to receive the quality of services they deserve. Our aim is to create an excellent service which safeguards all our children and young people and meets their needs.

"We recognise that many parents and carers in Cornwall will be worried by the findings of this report and would like to reassure them that plans are already being drawn up to improve these services."

The Ofsted inspection in September examined the safeguarding and looked after children services commissioned and provided primarily by Cornwall Council.

The final report raises serious concerns about the consistency of social care practice and the effectiveness of some areas of its management and concludes that the overall effectiveness of services in Cornwall to ensure that children and young people are safe is inadequate.

The Inspectors identify a number of key areas for improvement and set out a range of actions, some of which need to be carried out immediately, some within three months, with the remainder expected to be implemented within six months.

Acknowledging the findings of the report, the agencies have pledged to work together to implement the recommendations as quickly as possible.

Speaking on behalf of Cornwall Council, Chief Executive Kevin Lavery said that the council had already taken decisive action to improve the quality of the social care services it provides to children, young people and families. The Children's Trust and the Local Safeguarding Children's Board will now address the wider issues identified in the Ofsted report in partnership.

"Following the report of the unannounced inspection in July and the Ofsted inspection last month, the Council was determined to take immediate action to address the areas of concern as soon as possible rather than waiting for the final report" said Mr Lavery.

"We have appointed Richard Hubbard as the Interim Director for Children, Schools and Families and Kevin Peers as the Interim Head of Improvement to lead the improvements to the service. Both Richard and Kevin joined the Council almost two weeks ago and have already started work on driving through the changes we need to make to ensure we are providing a high quality service in Cornwall."

"We are very aware of the concerns which have been expressed over the changes to the structure of the Directorate and Richard will be looking at this to ensure that the proposed structure is fit for purpose."

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