Herefordshire Council has been told it can keep control of its children’s services.

But the children’s commissioner appointed to oversee the department’s turnaround has said she and others have found working with it “frustrating”.

“Whilst progress has been slower than we would want, there has been positive developments that hopefully can form the basis for quicker and more sustained improvement,” Eleanor Brazil’s newly published report says.

“I do not think any further consideration of an alternative delivery model is required.”


Following the department’s inadequate Ofsted rating in autumn last year, Ms Brazil was appointed by the government to oversee its improvement journey, which has included bringing in support from Leeds city council, a previously failing local authority which has successfully been turned around.

This support “is being well received and is an important addition to the [Department for Education’s] intervention, which is critical and necessary”, her new report says.

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But she admitted: “For those of us working to support and challenge Herefordshire, there has been a level of frustration experienced when even with our involvement, issues have not progressed with pace or been concluded. Often progress is only achieved through our continued focus.”

And she highlights continued “inconsistent” quality of practice and assessment, children still experiencing too many changes of social worker, and the council’s high use of agency staff who still account for over half of its social workers.


And she said the council was “initially slow to respond” to issues raised by a panel that was convened earlier this year to hear the concerns of families affected by the department.

But she added that following the change in the county’s political leadership last spring, “recent scrutiny meetings have been more focussed and purposeful, providing more of the constructive challenge that is needed”.

Councillor Ivan Powell, Herefordshire’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We know that there is much work still to do, but it is absolutely right that responsibility for delivering these improvements remains with the council.”