The new director of children’s services in Peterborough has admitted they “are not currently at the standard they should be” after government inspectors rated them inadequate.  

Council leaders have said improvements are their top priority following the Ofsted inspection in November of last year.  

The service was rated ‘good’ at its last inspection in June 2018. 

But this latest report published this week noted “there has been a deterioration in the quality of practice, and in the experience and progress of children and young people”.  

Among the areas that need to improve is support for care leavers and disabled children, service capacity in safeguarding and emergency services and the consistency in quality of social work assessments.  

The report does acknowledge that the new leadership team “has quickly grasped the scale and nature of the improvement that is needed”.  

John Gregg, who currently holds this role, says his number one focus is on improving the life chances of all children in Peterborough.  

He said: “I am sorry that children’s services in Peterborough are not currently at the standard they should be to ensure all children are receiving the support and care they so rightly deserve.     

“Since March our focus has been on putting robust plans in place to ensure every child who needs our support is getting it, at the right time and in the best way to support their needs.     

“We are providing training and support to our social workers to help us make the right decisions at the right time.”    

He added: “However, we know there is still a lot to do.  

“Over the coming months we will be working closely with our staff, partners and the Improvement Board to ensure the work we have started gathers pace... 

“...Improving our service is about more than just improving the Ofsted rating - it’s about making sure children benefit from the best services possible, making sure they remain safe, protected and inspired to reach their full potential.” 

Peterborough Matters: Stock image of a child playing with building blocks. Stock image of a child playing with building blocks. (Image: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / PA Images)Two of the areas assessed in the inspection - the experiences and progress of care leavers and the service’s overall effectiveness - were rated inadequate.  

The rating of “requires improvement to be good” was given for three areas: leadership on social work practice with children and families, supporting children who need help and supporting children in care. 

There were glimmers of positivity mentioned within the Ofsted report.  

Children who are subject to care orders and return to live with their parents are seen to receive the appropriate support. 

Those in care get help to remain in contact with people who are important in their lives and are enabled to live with extended family where possible.  

Cllr Ray Bisby, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Ofsted inspectors have confirmed the significant work we already knew we needed to do to bring children’s services up to the standards they need to be in Peterborough.... 

“... Our new political leadership brings with it a fresh approach as does the appointment of an experienced [director of children’s services] who we are confident can help deliver the necessary changes.  

“In fact, Ofsted said our current director of children’s services has brought stability and renewed focus to the areas in which improvement is needed across children’s services and has set clear priorities and appropriate plans to drive those changes.”