INSPECTORS have been reassured by the council's progress to help vulnerable children after two years of concern.

A two-day visit by Ofsted in May was the sixth time Reading Borough Council was rated inadequate in June 2016.

Children in care are now said to be receiving a much more stable and effective service, according to the education watchdog.

However, there are still fears that early planning for children in care is not consistently up to the required standard.

The report reads: “Inspectors observed a calm, purposeful working environment in the teams they visited.

"This included the safeguarding service, where significant difficulties in workloads are being purposefully addressed. Morale was positive and workloads considered manageable by social workers.

"There are significant delays in loading notes to children’s case files. In a significant minority of cases, considerable gaps in supervision are evident. ”

Social workers were also praised for working with children to understand their feelings about being in care and building meaningful relationships.

An external company, Brighter Futures for Children has been formed in order to improve provision for vulnerable children, but it is thought the provider will not take over until later in the year.

A series of monitoring visits identified progress as too slow and there were repeated calls for the old leader of children's services - Jan Gavin - to stand down before the recent reshuffle.

The council continued to struggle with the workload of bring children’s services up to scratch after three senior managers walked out.

Councillor Liz Terry, the new leader for children’s services, added: “I am pleased to see a number of positive observations by the Ofsted inspectors during their recent visit.

“I would like to thank staff and managers in the team for their hard work and commitment, which is helping the service to move more purposefully in the right direction, resulting in positive outcomes for children.

“Of course, we accept there are areas requiring improvement and there is still much to be done but residents should be assured there is no shortage of ambition and determination to ensure Reading’s families get the children’s services they deserve.”