The Department for Education (DfE) has issued a formal Direction order to Tower Hamlets council due to the inadequate performance in Children’s Services revealed in the Ofsted report of April this year.
Staff from Lincolnshire County Council and Islington Council are to be appointed by the DfE as Intervention Advisers and Alan Woods CBE is to chair the Children’s Services Improvement Board (CSIB).
Alan Woods was one of the four Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Commissioners who took control of Tower Hamlets council between December 2014 and March this year.
Children’s Services criticised by Ofsted
The latest development is regarded by the Council as the next formal step as a result of the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services published in April and comes hard on the heels of the row over the fostering of a five-year-old girl last month.
Cllr. Rachael Saunders (Labour, Mile End) came under criticism for failings in her role as Lead Member of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
You can download the Direction notice here (PDF).
Local Safeguarding Children Board reviews
The DfE Direction is open ended. The Intervention Advisers are required to carry out six monthly reviews of Children’s Services in the borough, the first review to be submitted in February 2018.
The reviews include: practice, performance, culture, leadership, management and governance, workforce and management oversight, early help and the efficiency of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
The Chair of the Improvement Board is required to report to the Secretary of State for Education on progress in delivering the improvement plan on a quarterly basis, the first report being due by the year end.
A statement by Tower Hamlets Council is expected later today.
Statement by Tower Hamlets Council
“Children’s social care services remain under the full control of Tower Hamlets – which is clear from the DfE Direction issued yesterday.
“We have a highly ambitious and achievable plan to achieve a good rating for children’s services from Ofsted by April 2019
“Work is already well underway and our Children’s Services Improvement Plan is our programme to fundamentally change the way that we will now deliver children’s services.
The council is investing an extra £4.8m in children’s services for improvements required by Ofsted.”
The Direction issued yesterday sets out the actions required by DfE following the Ofsted inspection in April and does not remove children’s social care services from local authority control. That action can be taken by DfE where a local authority has been found inadequate across all areas following an inspection, as has happened in the recent case of Croydon.”
Council not being transparent
“The Labour Council is not being transparent in explaining the inadequacy of the performance of Children’s services,” said Cllr. Andrew Wood responding to the news. Cllr Wood is the Conservative Group lead on Children’s Services.
“Children’s Services help to look after the most vulnerable people in our society and it is essential that the Council return to a Good rating and aspire to receiving an Outstanding rating in all categories so that our residents may have confidence that all of our children are in a safe and secure environment.”
“I am also aware of a number of cases which have given my group concern (including that of the young girl fostered which was extensively covered by the press a few weeks ago) and will be requesting that the Intervention Advisers examine these cases and where necessary, identify failures and make recommendations for improvement.”
Related Internet Links
- Tower Hamlets Council to take significant action to improve Children’s Services
- DfE Direction notice (PDF).