Too many children in care in Gloucestershire continue to experience “drift and delay” despite improvements, Ofsted have concluded.

Unassessed risk, high staff turnover, and even document mix-ups were also among Ofsted’s findings published in a letter after it visited Gloucestershire County Council’s children’s services on May 15.

The visit was part of Ofsted’s quarterly monitoring of GCC since it rated the local authority’s provision of child social care inadequate - the lowest Ofsted can give - in March 2017.

Inspectors noted some positives, however, highlighting higher morale, the “clear direction” for progress provided by senior management and the commitment of Gloucestershire’s social workers.

In response to the letter, GCC said it has already started addressing concerns by, for instance, rolling out a new training programme for social workers and embarking on a recruitment drive to bring experienced social workers into the county.

Councillors in control of the Conservative-led council welcomed Ofsted’s praise for recent leadership shake-ups, arguing that GCC’s inadequate rating is set to improve.

“I’ve been really impressed by the impact of the new management in children’s services and am pleased that this has been reflected in the feedback from Ofsted,” said Conservative councillor Richard Boyles, who oversees children and young people at GCC.

“There’s more to do, we know that and we aren’t shying away from it, but I am confident we will get the service up to the standards we want and the county’s children and young people deserve.”

Liberal Democrats echoed Ofsted’s confidence in new child services leadership, but lamented the damage already done to some.

“The recent appointment of an experienced director for children’s services gives me a lot more confidence going forward, but nothing can repair the years when children received poor support and were at risk,” said councillor Paul Hodgkinson, who leads the Lib Dems on GCC.

Such optimism was not shared by Labour, with leader Lesley Williams, country councillor for Stonehouse, saying: “Previously I had been wary of making comments that might be seen to damage morale amongst social workers at Gloucestershire County Council, but from this letter it’s quite clear that morale is one of the only aspects to have improved.”

“The administration will undoubtedly try to spin the few positive observations in the letter into evidence that things are changing, but it’s quite evident that the pace of change is still far too slow and that children are still being put at risk."

Ofsted’s letter can be found in full online here: