Troubleshooter speaks out on children’s service crisis

THE woman brought in to turn around Kirklees Council’s failing children’s services department has spoken about the task she faces. 

Government troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil OBE was brought in last month after Ofsted judged the department “inadequate”.

The watchdog gave its lowest rating over concerns surrounding more than a third of children’s cases, including unrecognised neglect and abuse.

Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening brought in Ms Brazil as a Children’s Services Commissioner following the scathing report. The large turnaround in staff was also highlighted by Ofsted inspectors, who said “workforce instability” meant improvements were hard to make.

Speaking for the first time since her appointment, Ms Brazil said: “I think I have two tasks here.

“The first is to review the leadership and management capability and capacity of the local authority.

“I will make some recommendations back to Government at the end of the review period at the end of March.

“The second part of the role is to drive improvement.”

Asked what her job entailed, she said: “I will spend time with frontline staff and get a sense of how it is for social workers to do a good job, how they are being supported by the managers and what’s getting in the way of it.”

Ms Brazil has been given full authority by the Government to attend any meeting she wishes and to speak to all members of staff.

“If you read the Ofsted report it’s clear something went very wrong in terms of the focus on the most vulnerable children in the area,” she added.

“To be fair, the council had started to address things but had not had the impact.

“There are people committed to getting it right.

“There are people here who are doing a good job but everybody needs to be doing a good job.

“I am encouraged. I think politically, the council is supportive.

“I have met the whole cabinet and they are extremely serious that this happened and they want to sort it out as quickly as possible.

“This is not a passive role. If I see something that I think could be done better I will say so. My view is that we have to tackle a number of things at the same time.

“The biggest issue is always about leadership and direction at every level.

“I have not seen anything that I have been surprised by.

“I wouldn’t be here if there weren’t things that weren’t right.”

Share this post