Shropshire Council will be ordered to improve after an inspection revealed “serious and widespread systemic failings” with some of its services for vulnerable children.

An Ofsted inspection report published today (January 12) said that there had been a “deterioration in the quality of social work practice for those children subject to child protection plans” which left children “at risk of inadequate protection and significant harm”.

The findings come after a visit from Ofsted in November, where inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for children subject to a child protection plan, which are intended to safeguard children who have been identified as being at risk of serious harm.

Inspectors criticised the authority for high turnover of management staff and an over-reliance on agency workers to manage cases, which resulted in frequent changes of social workers for some children and families. Inspectors say this has led to “inconsistent and ineffective management oversight” of plans to support children.

They added that the council needed to ensure a better quality assurance process for it’s child protection plans which it says is “insufficient to meet demand”, and ensure processes were better followed by social workers to manage risks to children.


“These concerns were known to senior leaders at the time of this visit, but the plans for improvement outlined in the self-evaluation have not yet had the necessary impact on the quality of practice to ensure that children’s needs are sufficiently addressed,” the report said.

“Too many social workers and managers fail to ensure that child protection processes are followed to investigate and manage escalating risks to children. There is a lack of systematic management oversight of frontline practice. This means that children are exposed to the risk of harm for extended periods without proactive action being taken when risks increase.”

The report added that senior leadership team at the council had acknowledged the shortfalls identified by inspectors and expressed a commitment to improve,  but inspectors criticised the pace of that improvement as being “too slow”.

Shropshire Council will now be required to submit an action plan detailing how it will improve within 70 days.

Councillor Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Cabinet Member for Children and Education said the council had acknowledged the “difficult issues” raised in the findings, and was committed to ensuring the best outcomes for Shropshire children.

“We had already identified many of the issues the visit raised and are working hard to address these through our draft council-wide implementation plan, in particular around recruitment of children’s social care staff, which is a national issue. For example, we are in the process of recruiting 20 new social care roles to help ease caseload pressure,” she said.

“Our draft plan has been submitted to Ofsted and we’ll continue to work on this action plan over the next few weeks. We had already been doing this for some time before their visit.

“Yes, this report raises some difficult issues, however we have a highly skilled and passionate workforce who make a real difference to the lives of children and families in Shropshire. I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to ensuring children in Shropshire are kept safe and well.

“The Ofsted visit focused on only one part of a much bigger service, and it also highlighted many areas of good practice here. There is no rating following this and we remain ‘Good’ as stated following our initial inspection in 2022.”