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Ofsted praises improvements at Birmingham's children's services

Government inspector says things are improving at troubled city council department which has been rated 'inadequate' since 2009

Birmingham City Council has won praise from Ofsted inspectors

Birmingham's struggling child protection service has been told it is finally making "notable improvement" after years of failure.

Ofsted inspectors visited the city's children's services department in May and found that progress was being made after speaking with families as well as social workers.

The service has been rated "inadequate" since 2009 and found at fault in a series of deaths of children in its care including Khyra Ishaq, Keanu Williams and Keegan Downer.

It was not a full inspection so the inadequate rating remains in place.

But inspectors found that the council "is making steady progress and has taken some important steps in improving services for its children and young people".

In a letter to the council, they said: "Although substantial further progress is required before services are consistently good, in a number of key areas children in Birmingham are receiving better and timelier services.

"Against a long-standing history of failing to provide good services for children, this represents notable progress."

City children's services chief Coun Brigid Jones said that, while pleased at the progress, they knew they had much more work to do.

She added: "Of course we recognise, as does Ofsted, that there is still a long way to go. We have always said we would need to build strong foundations before we can ensure sustainable improvements.

"However, this is tangible evidence we are heading firmly in the right direction and I know there will be no complacency as we continue on our improvement."

Council leader Coun John Clancy added: "The latest Ofsted inspection demonstrates beyond doubt that Birmingham children's services' long journey of improvement is marching firmly in the right direction.

"The inspectors found 'notable progress', were satisfied that most concerns about children's welfare are being dealt with promptly and concluded that almost all children are now receiving the right level of service."

Last year, the city council decided to set up the arm's length Birmingham Children's Trust to run the child protection service.

It is being established and will take over next year.

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