Education and social care in ‘battle royal’

The social affairs and health committee of the Local Government
Association has warned of a “battle royal” taking place over
whether education officers or social workers gain control of
children’s services.

At the national social services conference earlier this month,
several committee members expressed concerns that social care
professionals would lose out in the integration of children’s care
services and education into one department, as recommended by the
Every Child Matters green paper.

Martin Candler, from Stockport Council, said: “It is quite clear
that education professionals are going to make a bid to control
this process. In my part of the world there is a battle royal for
control among our officers.”

Maureen Robinson, from New Forest Council, said she was “seriously
worried about the education take over” and that head teachers
particularly were being difficult.

“I am concerned that both the government and some people in local
authorities see achievement in terms of education attainment. The
wider development of the child has still not taken root. It will be
very hard to keep the social care agenda at the forefront of the
debate,” she said.

The LGA plans an urgent meeting with its education committee to
address the issue. They will also discuss the difficulties of an
elected “super member” overseeing a department which could account
for 80 per cent of a council’s budget and 70 per cent of
performance targets.

Meanwhile, the new president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services Andrew Cozens said the green paper proposals could
force the ADSS to review its membership rules.

However, he denied that the proposals amounted to an automatic take
over by education or the end of social services directors.

“What the government is saying is we need accountability for
children’s services – it is not necessarily the same as
management,” he said.

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