Government sends commissioner into Buckinghamshire children’s services

20 Feb 18

The government will send a commissioner into Buckinghamshire County Council’s children’s services after the department was branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

Progress towards improving the service has been “inconsistent and too slow”, according to the latest report from the watchdog.

This was following an Ofsted report back in 2014, which also rated Buckinghamshire’s children’s services ‘inadequate’. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We are appointing a commissioner to inform our decision about next steps on how best to secure rapid and sustainable improvement so that children and families in Buckinghamshire have access to high quality services.

“The commissioner will make a recommendation as to next steps which will be considered by the department.”

The commissioner is expected to go in towards the end of this month. 

Contributing factors to the the poor delivery of children’s services included a high turnover of social workers and high caseloads in certain teams, Ofsted found in its report, released on 29 January.

Some children’s problems had become worse in the absence of help, according to the report.

The investigation by Ofsted also emphasised the failings of the child services management and suggested that some managers did not make sure that social workers work quickly enough to help children in need. 

In addition, the report criticised what it called “an over-reliance on parents’ own reports of [children’s] progress”, which caused some children’s cases to be closed early.

As of 31 October 2017, 2,447 children were identified as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, which reflected a reduction from 3,363 on 31 March 2017.

Despite this slight improvement, Ofsted characterised Buckinghamshire’s improvement strategy as “piecemeal” and it called for an overhaul “at all levels to make sure that children’s plans are properly progressed.”

Responding to the report, Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I am extremely disappointed and concerned with the outcome, and the council fully accepts the findings of the report.

“It is clear that some of our services are still not good enough yet and the pace of improvement in some key areas has been too slow, it is our collective responsibility to make sure that we put this right.”

Did you enjoy this article?