Slough Borough Council’s children’s services will be handed over to an independent trust, the government has announced.
Children’s minister Edward Timpson confirmed the move as the Department for Education published the findings of an independent review of Slough’s children’s services. The review, which was carried out by consultancy group OPM, was commissioned by the DfE in the wake of a damning Ofsted inspection report of Slough’s services in April.
In a letter to Slough Councillor Rob Anderson regarding the review, Timpson said:“It is clear to me, from the evidence Ofsted has presented, the views of DfE caseworkers drawn from their involvement in your improvement processes, and the findings of the OPM review, that there are serious systematic failures in Slough.
“Serious concerns about the leadership, management and governance of both children’s services, and the corporate oversight of children’s services from the Council, are longstanding. The OPM review found that ‘Slough has struggled to maintain sufficient capacity and capability of more senior level staff.'”
He added: “For the reasons mentioned above, and having considered OPM’s review, I am still persuaded that putting services beyond the Council’s control is the right course and wholly proportionate to the problems identified.”
Under the trust model, accountability for services would rest with the Secretary of State or with a persons nominated by them.
Responding to the report, chief executive of Slough Borough Council, Ruth Bagley, told the Slough Express: “We had made strong representations that a trust was not the swiftest and most effective approach to deliver improvements to children’s services and safeguard our children. We are now digesting the full implications for the council and will be preparing a response to the Minister in due course.”