Children: Social Services

Department for Education written question – answered on 6th March 2020.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the SEND local area inspection of Hull City Council by the CQC and Ofsted that took place in October 2019 and Ofsted's inspection of children’s social care services in Kingston upon Hull City Council published in May 2019, if he will make an assessment of the capacity of that local authority to improve the (a) SEND and (b) child protection services it provides.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he plans to appoint a Commissioner to oversee children’s services provision in Hull.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

In the ‘Putting Children First’ guidance, the department is clear that where failure occurs in children’s social care services we expect most councils to improve with support and challenge from experts, especially when failure is not persistent or systemic. It also highlights that we will review councils’ progress towards improvement. Where insufficient progress has been made, we have the right to appoint a commissioner to review whether services should remain in council control. The guidance is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/putting-children-first-our-vision-for-childrens-social-care.

An Ofsted monitoring visit, published in February 2020, found that progress to improve children’s social care services in Hull has not been good enough to date. The department is aware the council has made changes to the leadership of its social care services and is considering the next steps in our intervention in Hull.

The joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission SEND local area revisit to Kingston-upon-Hull in October 2019, published on 23 December 2019, found that sufficient improvement had been made in two out of the four significant weaknesses identified in the October 2017 inspection.

The department is clear that progress with addressing the remaining weaknesses must be accelerated, and has requested local area leaders submit an updated action plan setting out how they will achieve this. This action plan must be co-produced with partners and outline how the local area will report on progress and impact, as well as how partners, including families, will be kept fully aware and informed of progress.

The department will review the plan with partners, including NHS England, as part of our assessment of the most appropriate actions that will bring about the required improvement in services. We are working with the newly appointed leadership team at the City Council to establish a joint approach to driving improvement across both services.

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