Government tells “inadequate” Slough to outsource its children’s services

Review of Slough's options, commissioned by the Department for Education, will start next month

The government has told Slough council to outsource its children’s services after Ofsted gave it its lowest inspection grade for a second time.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson told the authority that his officials would commission a review to “examine how best to provide delegated children’s services in Slough”.

In a letter to the council’s leader, Rob Anderson, Timpson said: “Whilst I recognise the determination of you, elected members and your officers to address the shortcomings identified by Ofsted, I believe that a new and more decisive approach is needed if Slough is to improve to the point where it is providing a service at an acceptable level.”

Yesterday the council said the review would be led by consultancy OPM and would “look at options for the governance and structure of the service” which could include “different improvement arrangements, external trusts or partnerships”.

The review team is expected to be in Slough until mid-May and is set to make recommendations to the minister later that month.

Ruth Bagley, the council’s chief executive, said: “We expected the DfE to review Slough after our inadequate rating for children’s services.

“We will be working with the team throughout their visit and will be showing them the progress we have already made, and we hope the review will give a real impetus to how services can be improved long-term.”

Last week the government launched a consultation on allowing councils to outsource almost all of their children’s social services work.

In December 2013 Ofsted rated Slough’s services for children in need of help and protection, looked after children and care leavers as “inadequate” and in 2011 deemed its children’s services to be “poor”.

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