‘People don’t come into jobs like this to fail children’

David Johnston, managing director for children's social care and learning at Bucks County Council
David Johnston, managing director for children's social care and learning at Bucks County Council

The new face of Bucks County Council’s childrens services department vows to regain the public’s trust after a damning Ofsted report.

David Johnston took the reins from Sue Imbriano after she stepped down following the report in August, in which inspectors highlighted a catalogue of the council’s failures in protecting the county’s vulnerable children.

Former Ofsted inspector Mr Johnston said: “For the last few weeks I have been building my knowledge, speaking to staff and making contact.

“We have a really committed work force but morale has taken a real hit. People don’t come into jobs like this to fail children. If something isn’t working, we either change it or stop doing it.”

Mr Johnston said the public has lost trust in the system and that his priority would be ‘getting the safeguarding service working well for children’.

He said: “Part of that trust is transparency. The safety of children is a our priority. That is what people expect and that is what we will give them, but there will be setbacks from time to time.”

Mr Johnston – who has previously worked for Suffolk County Council – said it could take between one to two years to get the service into a state where it would be rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, after the August report highlighted major weaknesses in the department.

There are nearly 2,500 children in Bucks who have been assessed as needing a service from the department.

Between June and September, an external company was drafted to work through the backlog of cases.

Several new permanent staff members have already been hired and Mr Johnston said they are ‘getting on’ with the task in hand.