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‘landmark’ reforms announced to improve poorly performing Children’s Services

Written by: Alison Armstrong
David Cameron announces ‘landmark’ reforms to improve poorly performing Children’s Services.

• Local authorities that persistently fail will be taken over by either child protection experts, high-performing local authorities or charities
• This transformation could include these partners acting as sponsors or forming ‘trusts’, to take over authorities that are judged to be failing – similar to that of Slough & Doncaster
• £100m+ to be invested in attracting more high-calibre graduates into Social Work
• These new plans mirror the approach taken with failing schools

The Prime Minister has announced an acceleration of plans to tackle failing children’s services departments, making it easier for them to be removed from direct local authority control. The ‘landmark’ reforms plan to stop the government standing by “whilst children are let down by inadequate social services”, he said.

For the first time, a formalised academy style system will be put in place so that any local authority judged as inadequate by Ofsted has to show significant improvement within 6 months or be taken over. There will be “sharper triggers”, the government said, so that an emergency inspection can be ordered where there are concerns. This could include complaints from whistle-blowers or evidence of poor leadership.

If a local authority’s children’s services fails to improve within 6 months of their Ofsted inspection, a new service leader (Commissioner) will be put in place and high-performing local authorities, experts in child protection and charities will be brought in.

Cameron said:

“Children’s services support the most vulnerable children in our society. They are in our care; we, the state, are their parents; and we are failing them. It is our duty to put this right; to say poorly performing local authorities: improve, or be taken over. We will not stand by while children are let down by inadequate social services.”

“This will be one of the big landmark reforms of this Parliament, as transformative as what we did in education in the last. And it shows how serious we are about confronting state failure and tackling some the biggest social problems in our country. Together we will make sure that not a single child is left behind.”

As part of these major reforms, the Prime Minister will announce that Sunderland children’s services will become a voluntary trust established by Nick Whitfield. The trust will take immediate action to improve Sunderland’s performance following a very poor Ofsted inspection in July which found widespread failure of leadership. New service leaders will also be appointed to step in and tackle failings in Norfolk and Sandwell children’s services. 
Tagged In: Social Work
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