Trust model would have negative impact on ‘inadequate’ children’s services, commissioner says

A report to government said a council should not have a trust model imposed upon it as it could disrupt improvement

Risk
Photo: Fuzzbones/Fotolia

The government has given a council six months to improve its inadequate-rated children’s services after a commissioner told ministers that imposing a trust model would disrupt efforts to raise quality.

Bromley children’s services, which commissioner Frankie Sulke said had “systemic” failings in a report published this week, will be spared from being moved outside of council control as it was decided “an imposed external trust model is likely to have negative impact on the pace of improvement and reduce the momentum currently in train”.

Sulke said action was already being taken to improve the services.

“In the time taken to get the trust established, improvement should be well on track in Bromley in any case,” she concluded.

“The imposition is likely to take focus away from the improvement effort at a point where colleagues in Bromley are working to deliver their ambitious improvement plan.”

Distraction

The government has agreed with Sulke’s recommendation that the council should be given a further six months to improve services, at which point another review will be carried out.

A social enterprise model was also seen as a “distraction” by the council. Sulke said the authority should retain control of children’s services as long as there is senior oversight.

The Department for Education said it will appoint a commissioner for children’s services to oversee improvements.

The decision follows the news last week that Sandwell’s children’s services are to be removed from council control after a similar report to the DfE. A trust was recommended for Sandwell after its commissioner found the council’s improvement plan had shown “insufficient evidence of positive impact”.

Sulke said Bromley had a lack of effective leadership and management which had contributed to the problems identified in an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted inspection carried out earlier this year. However, determined managers and front line staff were one of its strengths.

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