William Eichler 26 January 2018

Essex to take lead over Barnet’s ‘inadequate’ children’s services

Essex County Council has been appointed Barnet’s improvement partner after the latter’s children’s services were rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors.

An Ofsted report published in July last year found that Barnet Council’s children’s services were ‘inadequate’, prompting the Commissioner for Children’s Services to recommend the council receive ‘external direction and intensive support’.

The Children’s Commissioner for Barnet Council, Frankie Sulke, carried out a three month review and has recommended Barnet should retain control of children’s social care services, but with Essex CC acting as their improvement partner.

The Minister of State for Children and Families has written to Barnet Council accepting this recommendation.

Responding to the decision, Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee at Barnet Council, said he welcomed it and stressed that the welfare of children was ‘our number one priority’.

Mr Thompstone also said he was ‘pleased’ that the council would retain control of children’s social care services.

‘At the same time, we are in no way complacent, and recognise that we still have a long way to go to bring our services up the standard that children and young people deserve,’ he continued.

‘This is despite the best efforts of officers and the political leadership over the past 18 months.

‘With that in mind, we welcome the recommendation that the leadership of the improvement programme should be led and directed by Essex Council – a local authority with a proven track record in practice improvement.

‘We will continue to focus on delivering the comprehensive action plan we have in place and are absolutely committed to making the necessary improvements.’

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