Government withdraws its intervention in Buckinghamshire children’s services

But government's improvement partners raise concerns about whether the council can sustain its current level of progress

Photo: Mateus Lunardi Dutra/Flickr

The government does not need to intervene further into Buckinghamshire’s once troubled children’s services, a report from the Department for Education has recommended.

Prepared by consultancy Red Quadrant, the council’s government-appointed improvement partners, a review of Buckinghamshire’s improvement plans found the authority’s children’s services are making progress after a slow start.

Some concerns were raised about the recent improvements, however, with the authors unsure about whether the council would be able to sustain its progress.

Oversight and challenge

It recommended the department’s level of intervention is not escalated, but that close oversight and challenge is maintained.

The authority has been the focus of an improvement plan since an Ofsted inspection, published in August last year, deemed its children’s services to be inadequate.

“Buckinghamshire council has not made sufficient progress since the Ofsted inspection,” the review stated, “but this has recently accelerated and is now improving well.”

The review also called for an independent chair to be appointed to the improvement board, currently led by the council’s chief executive. If fully implemented, the improvement plan and recommendations will have a “significant impact” towards improving child safeguarding in Buckinghamshire, the review stated.

Sense of urgency

But the council needs to maintain the pace and sense of urgency for improving services, the review recommended, while there needs to be more attention from managers on making sure frontline practice improvements are put in quickly.

Chief executive Chris Williams said: “This is good news in that the [government] has the confidence, despite some reservations, that we can bring about the required improvements ourselves, rather than appointing external commissioners.”

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