The Children’s Plan is in danger of becoming merely a “wish list” of ambitions, unless it has clear priorities and a timetable for action, MPs have said.
A report by the House of Commons children, schools and families committee said there was little joined-up working across government in the areas covered by the department.
The committee urged children’s secretary Ed Balls and the Department for Children, Schools and Families to “demonstrate strong and decisive leadership to ensure effective and coherent policy making”.
The report said the absence of a timetable and the lack of priorities were real weaknesses and ran the risk of undermining the aims of the department. The MPs called on the DCSF to use a progress report later this year to set out clearly how it plans to achieve some of the plan’s main proposals. The committee intends to question Balls about this when the progress report is published.
Committee chair Barry Sheerman said: “The Children’s Plan provides an opportunity to make a tangible and lasting difference not just to children’s education but to children’s services across the board. We urge the government to be clear about what it hopes to achieve through this ambitious plan.”
The committee also criticised the number of indicators being used by the DCSF – with five outcomes from Every Child Matters, six strategic outcomes and five public service agreement objectives, and called for clear new strategic objectives to be used.