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Ofsted Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services

At the beginning of 2020, Ofsted carried out a three-week inspection of Children’s Services at Devon County Council. The report that accompanies this inspection was published on the Ofsted website on 17th March 2020.

Summary of findings

Ofsted found serious failings in the way a small number of vulnerable young people were helped and supported to become independent after they left the care system. Inspectors also found weaknesses in the social work response in some serious cases of child neglect which requires improvement.

Our response

In response to the report, Cllr James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:

“I am bitterly disappointed that we have been found to have let any vulnerable young person down, and we are determined to put this right.

“Any parent will recognise that trying to help a young person to become a thriving young adult able to stand on their own two feet can be a tough job. This is especially true of the most troubled and vulnerable young people who have been through the care system and may now be living a chaotic life, struggling with drug and alcohol or mental health issues.

“The cases highlighted by Ofsted are clearly extreme, but we fully recognise we have a duty of care to every single care leaver and as a corporate parent we must do more to reach out and wrap support around them better.

“I have every confidence in our senior managers and frontline staff to act fast to turn things around quickly.”

Jo Olsson, Devon County Council’s Chief Officer for Children’s Services said:

“Clearly this is not the outcome we wanted nor were expecting, and I take full responsibility.

“As a service, we fully accept Ofsted’s findings and acknowledge that we have badly let down some of our most vulnerable older care leavers, and we are fully committed to working fast to improve the way we help and support them. This work has already begun.

“We also recognise that there is always more to do to improve our social work practice – such as the way we intervene more decisively in serious cases of child neglect, and we will be working hard to address this.

“But it is also important that this devastating outcome does not totally obscure the many strengths and improvements we have made in Devon which were also recognised in this inspection.

“We have taken great strides in our approach to child protection and safeguarding, early help, fostering, in partnership working and many other areas.

“We also have a dedicated and committed frontline staff who work tirelessly alongside our partners in schools, in the health service and the police to make the difficult decisions and fine judgement calls needed every day to help protect and support thousands of vulnerable young people and their families.

“We have said all along that we want our Children’s Services in Devon to be considered ‘good’. And although this outcome is clearly a major setback, that remains our mission, and I truly believe we still are on the right road to achieving that.”


After learning of the outcome of the inspection, we sent a letter to our partners that outlined the details of the report, while Ofsted have communicated the findings to Devon’s children and young people.

As we work to improve the service, we will be using this webpage to update you on our progress as well as publishing any associated reports and documents.


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