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09 DEC 2009

Nine local authority children's departments deemed poor

The children's departments of nine local authorities have been rated as "poor" in the annual children's services ratings of 152 local authorities in England published by Ofsted today.

The local authorities judged to be performing poorly were Birmingham, Cornwall, Doncaster, Essex, Leeds, Rotherham, Warrington, Wokingham and Haringey in which Baby Peter Connelly was killed following serious failings by the council.

Haringey and Doncaster were the worst rated children's departments for a second year running and both have been subject to central Government intervention earlier this year.

The Haringey rating comes despite the appointment of Peter Lewis as the new director of children's services on a salary of £200,000, and the recruitment of extra qualified social workers from North America.

In the last fortnight the Children's Minister, Dawn Primarolo, has had to intervene in the children's services departments of both Cornwall and Leeds City councils to set out agreed action plans for improvement.

However, the performance ratings for 2009 also show that over two thirds of councils are providing excellent or good services for children and young people, with forty offering services that are performing adequately.

The local authorities judged to be performing excellently were Blackburn with Darwen, Camden, City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lewisham, Richmond-upon-Thames, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and York.

Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector, said that the councils which are performing excellently must be commended.

"Their achievement is highly significant, not just for the children and young people they serve but because they have shown that it can be done. Those which are good should be inspired to excellence, and those which are satisfactory should look for best practice to accelerate improvement. The small number of poorly performing authorities must renew their determination to improve, in the knowledge that it is both possible and necessary," Ms Gilbert said.

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