Professionals need convincing about joint working

    A lot of people need convincing that education working together
    with social services will work, Carole Bell warned at Community
    Live Children and Families today, writes
    Natalie Valios.

    Questioning whether it was possible to work in the context of
    standards versus inclusion and targeted versus universal, Bell
    said: “We have a lot of people to convince that working together
    will work.”

    The head of commissioning, quality assurance and review at
    Hammersmith and Fulham children’s trust added: “If we don’t, we
    won’t be able to fulfil the five outcomes in the green paper and
    the Children Act.”

    Julie Jones, the director of social and community services at
    Westminster Council, who was also speaking at the session, agreed
    that the challenge would not go away.

    “The best outcome for all children is to achieve well in
    school,” she added. “The complexity of what we are being asked to
    do is overwhelming.”

    She explained that Westminster has between 320 and 350
    looked-after children in the borough.

    Of these, two-thirds are in out-of-borough placements, attending
    schools in over 40 Local Education Authorities.

    Twenty per cent of the looked-after population has special
    education needs and a quarter are unaccompanied asylum seeking

    This provided challenges for its multi-disciplinary specialist
    team EPIC – education of children in care – such as dealing with
    numerous other LEAs, lack of school places and placement moves,
    said Jones.

    “I asked my social work managers what was the most important
    thing to deal with and they said it was the lack of school places.
    I don’t think a couple of years ago they would have said that.”

    “The director of education and I have stayed joined at the hip
    on all occasions. We expect our managers to do the same and then
    that to run right down to front line staff but it’s very
    complicated,” she added.

    But working together on the ground can be hampered by several
    issues including the high turnover of staff in both social services
    and teaching. “Building relationships and doing common assessments
    work much better when you know each other,” said Jones.

    “This isn’t an either/or, we share the same ambitions for

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