BRADFORD Council leaders have outlined how a draft improvement plan will be in place next month in a bid to turn around the authority’s children’s services, which was recently judged inadequate by Ofsted.

The result of September’s inspection was a key item at the Council’s executive meeting yesterday, with senior councillors and leaders expressing their disappointment at the result, but vowed to turn the service around for the sake of the 4,000 most vulnerable children in the district.

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe told the meeting: “We have 4,000 children in the district who are the most vulnerable and they deserve the best care we can give them. I’m very disappointed that this is not the case.”

Chief executive Kersten England reiterated that a number of changes were already being put in place.

A total of 1,700 cases of children classed as in need or those with child protection plans were in the process of being audited with more than half already completed.

She added: “It’s important to point out that Ofsted saw some exemplary practice in respect of some of the most complex issues being faced by children in the district, such as around children at risk of exploitation.”

Ofsted released its critical report just over a week ago, with the inspection body saying children’s services in Bradford had “rapidly deteriorated” in the past 18 months.

Inspectors added that services for those in need of protection leave children “at risk of serious harm.” The report stated that the main reason for the drop in quality had been a huge increase in demand for services, at the same time that a “significant” number of social workers and managers had left Bradford to work for other councils.

The report judged the Council’s children’s services in three areas - impact of leaders and experiences of children in care were both judged to require improvement; while the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection was judged to be inadequate.

Formal intervention by the Department for Education will now take place, with the Council already establishing a shadow Improvement Board.

It was also outlined at yesterday’s meeting that in the last 12 months there has been an increase in the number of looked after children and referrals, while the number of children protection plans in place was up by 20 per cent.

Councillors were told that at one point in the summer there were 38 vacancies for social workers, although after a recruitment push and money set aside for a retention allowance, this has improved and there are currently five vacancies.

However the meeting heard that this had resulted in a 60 to 40 per cent split in terms of inexperienced to experienced social workers, and a better balance was the ideal.