Children’s Services in West Sussex will remain under the control of the County Council for at least another year in light of progress made; the Department for Education (DofE) has said.
The Council received a statutory direction to place services for Children and Families into a separate Children’s Trust following an inadequate Ofsted report back in 2019, and a subsequent report by a children’s commissioner appointed by the DfE to look at the Council’s work.
As a result of improvements made since then, the Children’s Commissioner, and Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council, John Coughlan, said in his recent report that there were ‘compelling reasons why a company to deliver children’s services functions on behalf of the Council is no longer required’ and instead the Council should retain control of its children’s services for a period of twelve months pending a review of improvement progress.
Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This is a significant step for the Council and demonstrates a huge amount of hard work by a great number of people but, more importantly, it is crucial for children and families living in our county.”
The news comes shortly after West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was told that an independent advisory panel set up to support improvement within the service is no longer needed.
The chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said the service has taken ‘significant’ steps to improve and ‘is moving in the right direction in capable hands.’
Councillor Marshall added: “This Council has not been without its issues and to have such compelling evidence that we are driving forward improvements and making real change is incredibly heartening. Both the Fire & Rescue Service and our Children’s Services support us when we are at our most vulnerable and it is vital for our residents that we get those services right. I want to take this opportunity to pay thanks to all our dedicated staff who work tirelessly to support residents and these achievements are testament to their hard work. We will continue to strive for improvements and make the services we provide to the residents we serve the best they can be.”