A three week focused inspection of Trafford’s children’s services is expected ‘any time now’.

The borough’s services were branded ‘inadequate’ by watchdog Ofsted in March last year and the council was handed an improvement order by central government.

Inspectors found, since the area’s last inspection in 2015, there had been ‘widespread deterioration’ of service quality across the borough.

At the time, inspectors said senior leaders in the Trafford service ‘had no awareness of the decline’ and were ‘unaware of significant weaknesses’.

Ofsted found many children in need of early help in the borough were not getting the support they needed fast enough and the council’s response to children’s needs had left some children living in neglectful situations ‘for too long’.

The watchdog added that the council did not support children enough to give their own feedback on the services they were receiving.

Since then, Ofsted has been carrying out monitoring visits to track the progress in Trafford – noting some improvements have been made.

Trafford was due to have another monitoring visit in March 2020, but this was postponed when the pandemic began.

Now, service bosses are expecting a three week focused inspection by Ofsted representatives, due ‘any time now’.

Jill McGregor, director of children’s services at the council, was drafted in in October 2019 as the borough’s first permanent director in four years.

At a pandemic scrutiny meeting she said: “My prediction would have been that we’d have [an inspection] on November 2, that would have meant we had a call on Tuesday, but we didn’t.

“So who knows, any time, it’s imminent. [We’re working to see] that any inspection is just an external validation of what you’re doing. We’re working really hard with the staff to make that a reality.”

Ms McGregor gave details to the committee about the work done to refresh the borough’s improvement plan, which details what those working in children’s services are ‘already doing and will continue to do to strength the service’.

She added that staff have noticed a ‘forensic level of scrutiny’ from her over their work as the services continues to strive for improvement.

She said: “It’s really important to recognise that you can’t do everything all at once and that we make it feel doable for our staff, because if we just say, you’ve got to change everything, then probably things won’t get done as robustly or as well as you would want.

“We are really challenging ourselves and thinking about how we organise the service in a way that is helpful not just to our staff but to our children and families.

“We continue to meet with the improvement board and it’s really important that we remain open to that level of scrutiny and challenge.”