The decision to delay publication of the children’s green paper was
accompanied by a great deal of humbug from the government and
greeted in the press by more of the same.
If the prime minister really wanted to attend the launch, somebody
should have mentioned it to his diary secretary a great deal
sooner. On the other hand, the hold-up can hardly be said to be
evidence of Margaret Hodge’s alleged indifference to children. A
much likelier explanation is that, now the Department for Education
and Skills has won its battle with the Home Office over the future
of children’s services, Hodge and her colleagues wanted more time
to knock the green paper into shape.
As a token of its good intentions, the DfES has confirmed that
there will be a children’s commissioner for England and that the
inspection of services will continue to be carried out by the
Social Services Inspectorate rather than be handed to the education
inspectorate Ofsted. All of this is welcome, though it remains to
be seen whether the commissioner role will be truly independent. At
the very least, the omens for the green paper are positive.