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15.11.18

Northamptonshire County Council: Another commissioner on the way after huge decline in children’s services

Communities secretary James Brokenshire has decided to appoint an additional commissioner to the team already in place at Northamptonshire County Council as a result of Ofsted’s latest inspection, which concluded that children’s services had deteriorated significantly since its last visit two years ago.

After a two-day visit, Ofsted wrote to the council to say that services had declined intensely against a backdrop of recent financial uncertainty. Children were not being assessed consistently or effectively, were not properly supported and protected, and there were concerns over workforce capacity and oversight.

In a written statement, Brokenshire said that, after carefully considering the evidence and speaking to the commissioners, he and education secretary Damian Hinds agreed that they must “act swiftly to strengthen the focus on children in the current intervention” by appointing an extra person.

“Keeping vulnerable children safe is one of the most important duties local authorities carry out and any deterioration in the performance of Northamptonshire children’s services cannot continue,” he wrote.

“The secretary of state for education has therefore announced that he is minded to appoint a children’s services commissioner for Northamptonshire under the powers granted to him by Parliament under section 497A (4B) of the Education Act 1996. This will help to stabilise and improve the service so each and every child receives the protection they deserve.”

The commissioner will also help the council decide how to best deliver its children’s services after the looming local government reorganisation in the region.

Hinds currently wants to appoint Malcolm Newsam CBE to the role, who he sees as a “very strong candidate” due to his track record in the field and his experience with local authorities. However, Hinds will first consider the council’s review on his proposal next week before appointing the commissioner.

Additional children’s services capacity has also been brought in through the DfE’s Partners in Practice programme, with Lincolnshire County Council providing practical support and advice.

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