Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Poorly performing children’s services face takeover

Prime minister unveils radical reforms to improve performance of children’s services

Local authority children’s services that persistently perform poorly will be taken over immediately, under government reforms unveiled by David Cameron.

The prime minister announced a number of measures and stated that ‘failing’ children’s services will be given six months to improve or face being taken over by highly performing children’s services, child protection experts or charities which will act as sponsors or form ‘trusts’ to turn services around.

Prime Minister David 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.”

Historically, children’s services have been taken over on an ad hoc basis and there has been no clear national response to services judged as failing. Under Cameron’s proposals, a formalised academy style system will be introduced so that any local authority judged as inadequate by Ofsted has to show “significant improvement” within six months or face being taken over with a new service leader or commissioner put in place.

Emergency Ofsted inspections can be ordered under the reforms where there are concerns about an authority’s performance raised by complaints from whistle-blowers or evidence of poor leadership.

Sunderland children’s services will become a voluntary trust to take immediate action to improve Sunderland’s performance following a very poor Ofsted inspection in July which found widespread failure of leadership. Failings in Norfolk and Sandwell children’s services will be tackled by new service leaders.

The prime minister added: “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.”

Further measures unveiled by Cameron included an urgent review of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards and the centralisation of Serious Case Reviews to ensure lessons are learned from serious incidents.

There will also be a drive from the government to recruit new trust sponsors from the charity sector to help deliver innovative children’s services. It will also work with six of the country’s best local authorities, North Yorkshire, Hampshire, Tri-borough (Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea), Leeds, Durham and Richmond & Kingston to give academy style freedoms to high-performing authorities.

In addition £100m funding was revealed to attract more high calibre graduates into social work.

Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children welcomed the announcement: “The safety and wellbeing of children and young people is our absolute priority. Partnerships are the way forward and any partnership under these proposals will need appropriate safeguards and an understanding of what works for children. Working with local authorities, charities with relevant expertise are well placed to provide innovative solutions at a time of increasing need and reduced resources.”

However, Cllr Roy Perry, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, issued concerns: “Across the country, social workers are striving to improve the lives of vulnerable children and work closely together to maximise expertise and knowledge. Where change is needed, learning from within the sector from the best councils is paramount.  If extra external assistance is required, it must only be for a period of time to help bring a council back on its feet.

"It is right that the best performing councils are able to support those struggling. However, it is important that capacity and resources are fully provided as transforming a hugely complex child protection system takes time and additional funding.  Evidence suggests that transforming services often takes longer than six months and a flexible approach is required,” he warned.

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Alarming rise in self-generated material online


An alarming rise in the amount of self-generated material where children have been tricked or groomed by sexual predators has been unearthed by the Internet Watch Foundation.

New data shows online content of children being tricked into sexually abusing themselves on camera for predators has more than doubled in the first few months of the [...]

Read Full Story

Number of children placed on child protection plans for CSA has plummeted by 60%


The number of children placed on a child protection plan for Child Sexual Abuse in England and on the child protection register for CSA in Wales has dropped by 60% over the past two decades, according to new research.

The scale and nature of child sexual abuse: Review of evidence by the Centre for expertise [...]

Read Full Story

Ofsted Review: Sexual harassment has been normalised in schools


Around nine in 10 girls spoken to by Ofsted as part of its review into safeguarding in schools said that sexist name calling and being sent unwanted explicit content happened either ‘a lot’ or ‘sometimes’.

The review, which also found that boys share content of nude girls between them like a collection game, found that [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram