Ofsted has given a mixed report on Herefordshire children’s services, saying it has found some improvements, but also a good deal of “poor practice” still at the department.

The Government’s schools and children’s services inspectorate made a monitoring visit to Herefordshire Council in late March, the first such since it was judged “Inadequate” in July 2022.

The two inspectors found improvements, “from a very low base”, in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) which responds to alerts of at-risk children, saying these “are now promptly identified and responded to”.


But their report adds: “For vulnerable children and families, the impact of this is limited as they experience poorer practice once allocated to a social worker for assessment”.

At this stage, children’s needs and risks are often “not sufficiently identified” and management of decisions on whether children are at risk of significant harm “not sufficiently robust”, they said.

Social workers listen and respond to the concerns of children themselves in only “a small minority” of cases, their report said.

However senior leaders at the council “are now more outward looking, proactively learning from better practice within the wider sector nationally” in response to the last autumn’s report.


“Some evidence of improvement [in assessment and care of children] has been seen in this monitoring visit, but the pace of improvement in some areas is too protracted,” the inspectors concluded.

Ofsted does not itself publish monitoring visit reports, but Herefordshire Council has chosen to make the findings public.

Director of children’s services Darryl Freeman accepted the inspectors’ findings, saying: “Improvements do not yet go far enough.

“It is essential we regain trust of those families and children we are here to help and we are committed to doing just that.”

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Incoming cabinet member for children and young people Coun Ivan Powell said: “We are putting some critical blocks in place to build on, but we must continue our focus and further increase our drive to embed improvement and better practice across the service.”

The report will be discussed at the first meeting of the county's new Conservative cabinet a week today (June 22).

Meanwhile a follow-up report by children’s commissioner Eleanor Brazil, appointed by the Government to investigate failings and propose improvements at the department in the wake of its Inadequate rating, is expected later this summer.