THE Department for Education have revealed who is being brought in to attempt to turn around Bradford's beleaguered Children's Services.

The Council department was judged "inadequate" by Ofsted in October 2018, and follow up inspections have found that the pace of improvement has been far too slow.

Last month the Department for Education announced that it would appoint a commissioner to try to speed up the pace of improvement.

Yesterday it was revealed that Steve Walker from Leeds City Council, has been appointed Children's Services Commissioner, and will spend the next three months reviewing social care in Bradford.

According to the DfE he will "ascertain whether the issues raised by Ofsted are more widespread, to identify immediate and ongoing improvements, recommend any additional support to deliver those improvements, and assess the Council’s capacity and capability to improve itself or whether an alternative delivery and governance arrangement should be put in place."

His findings could potentially lead to the department being taken out of the Council’s control.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have appointed a Children’s Commissioner to do a thorough review of Bradford children’s social care services to make sure those in its care are safe from harm.

Government to appoint commissioner to help improve Bradford's Children's Services

“If the council is not meeting its requirements to care for these children, we will not hesitate to take action that puts their needs first and brings about rapid improvement.”

Mr Walker has over 30 years' experience in social care, and oversaw improvements to the services in Swansea and Leeds.

He will not have any management responsibility for the service in Bradford, and will begin the role from today.

Mr Walker is currently the Director of Strengthening Families, Protecting Children programme at Leeds City Council. Before that he was Director of Children’s Services at Leeds City Council during which time the department improved from a "good" to "outstanding" Ofsted rating.

He said: “This is a hugely important task. It is vital that the district’s children get the right services at the right time and that their needs are at the core of improvement plans.

"My role is to review the progress that the local authority is making so that we take the right action to make sure that required improvement is delivered. I have extensive experience of working in West Yorkshire, so I’m very familiar with the challenges that social workers face in the Bradford District.

"Change needs to be delivered at pace, but this is also about making sure that the foundations are in place so improvement can be sustained.”

Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: “We welcome Steve Walker as the Government’s appointed commissioner and look forward to working closely with them on our improvement journey. His experience, knowledge and independent findings over the next few months will be important as we work to accelerate our progress to put in place the improvements that Ofsted requires. We will work closely with the commissioner to support him so we can deliver better services for children.

“Ofsted has acknowledged that we are seeing some improvements in our Children’s Services but we know that we have much more to do before they are at the level that we, or our children, should expect. As our district recovers from the pandemic, it is our top priority to make sure that our children get the best start in life. We are determined to do this quickly and the commissioner’s appointment is an important step to achieving this.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of the Council, said: “I welcome Steve Walker to Bradford. He has vast experience and will bring a good insight into what more the service can do to accelerate improvement. Everyone at the Council is committed to making sure that our Children get the best support possible. We have invested heavily to make sure the service is able to make the changes necessary to deliver that improvement and as councillors we will challenge the service to deliver this at pace.”