Today’s news review looks at the Department publishing a direction to a council with a failing children’s services department.
Sandwell children's services
Today, 6 October, the Department issued a direction to Sandwell Metropolitan Council announcing that Sandwell’s children’s services will transfer to a new trust.
Sandwell Metropolitan Council has persistently failed children and young people. The most recent Ofsted judgement, in June 2015, confirmed that children’s services remain inadequate – the fourth inadequate rating out of the last five inspections.
Eleanor Brazil was appointed in December as a non-executive commissioner to assess the council’s ability to improve. Her report concluded that the council is unlikely to do so without removal of direct control of the service for a period of time.
The Minister wrote on 26 May to the council confirming his acceptance of Eleanor’s recommendations.
The direction, which has been published on the DfE website and has been sent to the council, sets out that a trust, led by new Children’s Services Commissioner Malcolm Newsom, will work with Sandwell Council to make sure necessary improvements are made.
Sandwell Council has issued a press release in response.
Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson has also written to the council to explain the reasoning behind the decision. In his letter he says:
I am extremely heartened that you want to see rapid, positive change in Sandwell. That is exactly what I want to achieve. The necessary acceleration of improvement to your services does not start after a Trust has been established in Sandwell, towards the end of next year. It starts now, with the support and challenge of my Commissioner for Children’s Services in Sandwell, Malcolm Newsam.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We are clear that we will take tough action where children’s services are failing and although there have been some improvements in Sandwell, these have not gone far enough.
The Secretary of State’s decision, following expert advice, along with the appointment of Malcolm Newsam as Children’s Service Commissioner, is part of our plan to help the council take immediate action to improve Sandwell’s performance.
To see the direction and the letter visit our website .