Birmingham City’s council leader demanded a face-to-face meeting with Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw (pictured) following his comments branding the city a ‘national disgrace’ over its failure to improve child protection.
Council leader Sir Albert Bore has asked the chief schools inspector to Birmingham ahead of the imminent inspection of the council’s failing children’s services department.
Last month Sir Michael not only highlighted Birmingham’s failures on child protection, but suggested the council was too large to run a social care department and should be broken up.
In a report to the backbench watchdog committee the cabinet member for children, young people and families Brigid Jones said: “He made comments which went beyond his social care and safeguarding remit.
“Sir Michael’s comments have had a significant negative impact on already fragile staff morale across Children, Young People and Families directorate.”
With Ofsted inspectors due to visit in the next couple of weeks, council bosses have already admitted that they will remain rated as inadequate, but are hoping to convince the inspectors that they have measures in place to improve.
A priority for the department is filling the 144 vacancies and lowering the workloads. Although 62 posts are currently filled with agency staff, including 14 new recruits following an uplift in pay rates to about £42 per hour to compete with neighbouring local authorities. This leaves positions for 82 staff unfilled adding to the burden on staff.
Service director Jacqui Jensen told the committee that they were being ‘fussy’ about who they recruited, going for proven experience over raw untested recruits.
She said: “We are being fussy. We are not taking the approach that we simply put bums on seats. That would simply set up people to fail.”