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Three-stars must be target, says Laming

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The author of the damning report into the death of Victoria Climbié has set all children’s services departments the goal of winning a three-star rating for their safeguarding work.

Lord Laming complained councils are not doing enough to safeguard vulnerable children and have been slow to implement his recommendations.

He was speaking amid rising concern, a fortnight after a seven-year-old from Birmingham is thought to have starved to death, and following harsh criticisms of children’s services officers from Victoria’s mother Berthe Climbié.

Lord Laming raised concerns about the implementation of the Every Child Matters programme and the Children Act 2004, seen as essential steps in tightening up the practices that could have saved Victoria’s life.

“I’m frankly surprised and disappointed that there are still authorities that have not got their act together,” he told LGC.

“It really is time that the government said to local authorities frankly ‘either you get on with the job and do it effectively, or we will have to do things with a different approach’.

“I think the government has done extremely well in setting the agenda but there’s an important implementation stage and when you have a one-star authority, I think that really, really serious questions have got to be asked by the leaders of all the key services in that area.”

LGC understands around 10 local authorities have a one-star rating from Ofsted for their safeguarding of children, while roughly one-third have a two-star rating. The inspectorate was unable to pass on detailed figures.

Lord Laming said: “Until every authority has three stars, we haven’t done well enough.”

Dr Deborah Absalom, policy co-chair for safeguarding at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “I think that the Every Child Matters principles have been very widely embraced by local authorities.”

She admitted there was a gulf was between ‘inadequate’ authorities with just one star and those with two, three and four, respectively ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’.

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