Sam Clayden 09 February 2018

Children's services: Improving under pressure

Children's services: Improving under pressure

The words ‘serious and widespread failures’ have come to haunt councils across the country in recent years.

Ofsted’s chosen phrase found accompanying most inadequate judgements makes regular headlines while the sector’s warnings about growing pressures in children’s services go largely unreported. Even after the head of the family courts, Sir James Munby, warned of a ‘clear and imminent crisis’ back in 2016, the issue has been dwarfed by the focus on the NHS and adult social care.

But, despite the pressures, improvement remains possible. Rotherham MBC, an authority tarnished by the child abuse scandal, was last week rated good. Norfolk CC, which according to its managing director once had one of the worst Ofsted reports, is now out of special measures. Doncaster MBC and Slough Council’s children’s trusts are making progress. Isle of Wight Council has ditched its inadequate judgement thanks to a partnership with Hampshire CC.

Improvement is possible, and with trusts, government commissioners and local authority partnerships, there is a range of improvement tools currently on trial.

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