AN advertising claim by a Pocklington-based adoption agency that it used only “experienced competent assessors” has been banned following a complaint that it received an overall “inadequate” ranking from Ofsted.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that the New Leaf Adoption agency’s website claim, seen in March, was misleading in light of an Ofsted report dated February 20 finding that it did not comply with regulations during the assessment and approval of adopters.

The ASA noted that Ofsted’s inspection of the agency also found that not all required checks were undertaken, staff were not recruited in line with safe vetting practices and poor and unsafe practice went unchallenged as the manager and social workers did not have the required knowledge and experience of adoption.

A monitoring visit in June found that one of two statutory compliance notices served in the February inspection relating to recruitment checks for staff had been met, but the report following the visit also recommended that New Leaf ensured staff had regular supervision from appropriately qualified staff.

The ASA said that while there was evidence that New Leaf was taking steps to address the concerns expressed in the February report, there was still “inadequate evidence” to support its claim that it used only competent assessors.

The ASA said: “We concluded that the claim ‘we only use experienced competent assessors’, as seen by the complainant in March 2017, had not been substantiated and was misleading.”

New Leaf said it had taken a number of steps to address Ofsted’s finding, including recruiting and training to replace previous staff members.

The agency said it believed its actions had addressed Ofsted’s concerns and the information on the website, including the claim that had been challenged, was an accurate reflection of how it was now operating.

The ASA said: “We told New Leaf Adoption not to make claims which implied that their assessors were particularly experienced or competent in the absence of adequate evidence.”

Iain Dickinson, of New Leaf Adoption, said: "When this issue was brought to the attention of the ASA the agency was under a management team who no longer work for or are connected to New Leaf Adoption. In addition to this the wording on our website has since been reviewed.

Over the last nine months, the agency has seen a huge amount of change. I personally am now full time Director of the organisation and all issues relating to the previous staff team have been redressed. A new management and staff team has been put in place which includes a hugely experienced Adoption Manager and Business manager. Our current staff group are enthusiastic, dedicated and hugely committed to the agency and are doing an amazing job. New Leaf offers a great service to children and adopters and helps bring families together. We are all so proud of what we have achieved and what we do.