Inspectors to focus on safeguarding children

Joint area reviews of children’s services will focus primarily on agencies’ work on safeguarding children, the conference was told.

Managers from Rochdale Council, which was one of the pilot sites for the reviews, said inspectors were asking whether services were “Laming compliant”, after recommendations made by Lord Laming in his report into the death of Victoria Climbie.

Peter Traves, director of children’s services at Staffordshire Council, said feedback during the course of its review had also focused mainly on how the council was safeguarding children.

He expressed concerns about councils having to undergo simultaneous joint area reviews and comprehensive performance assessment, saying the pressure of a joint review was “enough in itself”.

And he was worried about how Staffordshire, which set up a children’s directorate just six months before the review, would be compared to other authorities that would be inspected in two or three years’ time and would have well-established integrated children’s services.

He also warned that inspectors could “spread themselves too thinly” during joint area reviews.

But he praised the approach of the review team. “I can’t speak highly enough of them,” he said. “They  were driven by a desire to improve things for children.”

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