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Commissioner to be sent to Surrey after damning Ofsted report

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A government commissioner has been appointed to oversee improvements in Surrey CC’s children’s services following a damning Ofsted report

A report published last week said senior management and elected members at Surrey failed to “accept and act” on serious failings identified in the council’s children’s services in 2015.

An inspection between February and March this year found a lack of “urgency” in responding to problems highlighted by the regulator left too many of the most vulnerable children “exposed to continuing harm for long periods of time”.

In a statement to a meeting of full council today, Surrey’s cabinet member for children Clare Curran (Con) said the council had received a letter from children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi to confirm a statutory direction would be issued soon and include the appointment of a commissioner.

The as-yet-unnamed commissioner, who is set to start in Surrey by the end of June and work there for an initial three months, will consider whether “appropriate arrangements” have been put in place to drive improvement.

Former Essex CC executive director for social care and education Dave Hill, who has been the Department for Education’s commissioner at NorfolK CC and Birmingham City Council, took over children’s services in Surrey last month.

Cllr Curran said: “Dave Hill and his team will be driving through the operational work that needs to urgently to be done, but may I ask all members here in this chamber to reflect upon our own important role in improving our children’s services.

“None of us can claim to be ignorant of our responsibilities as corporate parents, but neither can we be indifferent to that duty in the widest possible sense.”

She also announced Surrey had agreed a series of partnerships with councils rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

These are:

  • Hampshire CC will assist in reviewing and developing early help work
  • Essex CC will be help review and restructure existing multi-agency safeguarding hub arrangements.
  • Hertfordshire CC’s director of family safeguarding will work at Surrey for two days a week to improve processes.
  • Barbara Herts, Essex’s commissioning director for mental health, will work with the council to address “immediate problems” in the child and adolescent mental health service.
  • The Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership has agreed to “prioritise a major programme to support vulnerable children”.
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