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SALFORD STAR CALLS FOR RESIGNATIONS
 

Star date: 10:30am 11th September 2009

HOW SAFE ARE OUR KIDS?  NOT VERY SAFE ACCORDING TO OFSTED…

In its latest report, OFSTED has again directly criticised Salford Council Children's Services in relation to the most vulnerable kids in the city. 

OFSTED reported that from its inspection of cases it was still "unable to confirm…that the children concerned were safe". Yet Salford Council has had six years to sort out the safety of children who need protection, dating right back to the Victoria Climbie inquiry in 2003.

Now the Salford Star is calling for the resignation of Jill Baker, the Director of Salford's Children's Services, and, as the accountable Lead Member for Children's Services, Councillor John Warmisham…


This has been going on for years (see previous article)…Time and again, OFSTED has criticised Salford Council's Children's Services over its "inadequate" services for supporting children and young people to stay safe. 

In its latest report, which came from an unannounced inspection last August, OFSTED inspectors found cases with "significant delays" in identifying children who needed protection.  It further stated that the delays have "the potential to reduce the effectiveness and timeliness of multi-agency child protection". 

In five cases, inspectors couldn't even confirm from children's records that "action had been taken to ensure that they were not at risk of harm".

OFSTED also stated that Council strategies "are not sufficiently effective in managing and prioritising risk, and inspectors were unable to confirm from all case recording that the children concerned were safe".

While OFSTED also reported that Salford Children's Services was now "suitably staffed by qualified and experienced social workers", it identified nine `Areas For Development' and two `Areas For Priority Action'.

Salford Council stated this morning that its Children's Department had "addressed" all the issues "within 48 hours", but what would have happened had the OFSTED inspectors not brought matters to the Council's attention?

John Warmisham, Lead Member for Children's Services, also stated this morning that "The inspection has given me confidence that our work in improving services in this key area has been sustained and in the right direction. Our improvement programme is making progress and will include the recommendations from this latest inspection."

But where is our confidence in Councillor Warmisham that he's up for the job of overseeing this?

OFSTED concluded in its Annual Performance assessment in November 2007 that the "Council's services for supporting children and young people to stay safe are inadequate".  Shortly after this, Councillor Warmisham explained to the Salford Star "The welfare of children in Salford is our paramount concern and we take our responsibilities extremely seriously…We appreciate that there are further improvements to be made and we're working closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to bring these about quickly and effectively."

Almost two years later OFSTED couldn't even confirm that from children's records they had seen "action had been taken to ensure that they were not at risk of harm".

The Salford Star is today calling for the resignation of both Jill Baker, Director of Children's Services and, as the accountable elected Lead Member for Children's Services, Councillor John Warmisham (see Roles and Responsibilities for Safeguarding Children here).

Read the full OFSTED Report here…

UPDATED HERE 4pm 11th Sept 2009

UPDATED HERE 9th December 2009
 

Richard Carvath wrote
at 20:48:29 on 14 September 2009
I suppose it does qualify as a U-turn; I don't make them very often but I'm not afraid to change my mind when it is right and necessary to do so. This whole issue is not something to be making political capital out of though - and I would point out that your Norman has had access to privileged information on this which I have not; I changed my mind as soon as I became aware of the latest evidence. It's desperately sad what has happened with Children's Services and various specific cases. We're talking about serious and sustained suffering and failure here. I've now called for Jill Baker to go but I'm certainly not 'sticking in the knife and twisting it' because she's achieved much good in her time (as well as the failure she's presided over) and I know that her failings are down to questions of competency and workload rather than personal integrity. The time has now come for Jill to go but I'm certainly not going to slag her off. [A moot point it may be but we might do well to ask the question of how much worse things would now be had not Baker but rather someone else been in post?]
 
Steve Middleton wrote
at 19:37:52 on 13 September 2009
That's one hell of a U-turn Richard. On 1st September here: http://www.salfordadvertiser.co.uk/news/c/1133917_kids_service_boss_job_hangs_in_the_balance_ you publicly supported Jill Baker, yet just 10 days later you "conclude that the balance has been tipped and the weight of justification for her departure is now overwhelming." Salford Liberal Democrats have been calling for Jill Baker's resignation for months. Councillor Warmisham & Councillor Merry should also step down NOW. Time and time again Jill Baker and Cllr Warmisham have proved they are not up to the task. Cllr Merry has refused anything but support for his two incompetent colleagues, and therefore should shoulder some of the blame.
 
john wrote
at 17:33:08 on 11 September 2009
too be honest i would be very happy to see ALL salford councilors resign this city is crying out for new blood with new ideas that dont bendover backwards for big business ie bbc urban splash peel holdings to name a few . its time for new ideas this lot have been around far too long its not good for the city
 
Richard Carvath wrote
at 14:44:35 on 11 September 2009
Even up until very recently I have publicly defended Jill Baker against calls that she should go. I have defended her primarily because I know her to be a good woman of integrity - certainly she was when she took up her current role (before she drank from the poisoned chalice) - and because I recognise the improvements in many Salford schools for which she must be given the credit. I have also defended Jill Baker because knee-jerk reactions are rarely as prudent in the time of cooling off as they seem to be in the heat of the moment. However, I am now finally persuaded that the time has come for Jill Baker to depart; I do not impugn Jill Baker's character for a moment and I acknowledge that she has achieved much in Salford that is to be commended - but I must now conclude that the balance has tipped and the weight of justification for her departure is now overwhelming. Mindful as I am of the tremendous burdens that Jill has carried in her role for several years, I urge her to go now because that time has now come and there is no denying it and, moreover, if she goes of her own volition I have no doubt that the high esteem in which she is rightly held by many will not suffer for it - but rather be enhanced. Jill Baker did achieve much good in Salford during her time in post and it is that legacy by which she should be remembered. Quite frankly there is a strong argument for saying that in future either the areas of education and child protection should be separate or else the most senior person responsible for these areas should have extensive personal experience of both before being appointed.
 
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