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Unitary ordered to submit plan for new children's services model

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The government has ordered Reading BC to submit a business case for an alternative children’s services delivery model by the end of the month, while a London borough faces losing control of its children’s services.

Nick whitfield

Nick Whitfield

In a government direction issued yesterday, Nick Whitfield was reappointed commissioner in Reading after education secretary Justine Greening concluded the council’s children’s services remained ‘inadequate’.

This follows a report by Mr Whitfield, also published yesterday, which recommends that children’s services are taken out of the direct council control while options for a new model of delivery are explored.

Mr Whitfield said a new “format” for children’s services was needed “for budgetary reasons alone”, with a “more focused” model required to “ensure that service improvement is delivered and sustained”.

He added: “The removal of services from the council is, therefore, not something being done to the council but is rather something being done with the council in order to ensure high quality services for children and families in the borough.”

Reading announced in July that it intends to move children’s services into a council-owned company. This followed an Ofsted monitoring visit in June which found services were not improving quickly enough after an ‘inadequate’ rating in August last year.

Meanwhile, a government commissioner has been appointed to review whether Barnet LBC should lose control of its children’s services.

The council received an ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted in July after inspectors identified widespread and serious failures and “a legacy of widespread poor practice”.

Commissioner Frankie Sulke, former executive director for children at Lewisham LBC, has been tasked with assessing the council’s capacity to improve services at the required pace and consider whether an alternative model of delivery should be established.

She will report to the government by the end of November on her recommendations.

Yesterday a direction was also issued to Tower Hamlets LBC in response to an inadequate rating by Ofsted published in April.

The government has appointed “intervention advisors” from Islington LBC and Lincolnshire CC to support Tower Hamlets’ improvement board and carry out reviews on progress every six months.

*This story was updated at 12.45pm to include details of intervention taking place in Tower Hamlets


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