Government pledges £4million to create new Northamptonshire children's services after county council climb back from damning Ofsted rating

Northamptonshire County Council's children's services were rated "inadequate" by Ofsted in 2013.
Northamptonshire County Council's children's services were rated "inadequate" by Ofsted in 2013.

Northamptonshire County Council's children's services are now operating without supervision from the Department of Education (DfE) after bouncing back from an "inadequate" Ofsted inspection four years ago.

They have also been awarded £4million towards the creation of a new "trust model" to separate children's services from the county council and cut government red tape.

The Minster for Children and Families Robert Goodwill has written to the county council to confirm that "supervision and intervention from the DfE is no longer required".

It comes after Northamptonshire County Council's children's services were rated "inadequate" by Ofsted in 2013. They were reevaluated as "requires improvement" in April 2016.

County council director for children’s services Lesley Hagger said: “I’m delighted that the DfE has recognised our aim to transform the way we provide services for the most vulnerable children and families in Northamptonshire.

“This is a very exciting journey we are embarking upon and the new delivery model we are creating will enable us to bring our services together in locality-based team to give a more holistic view of the child’s needs and therefore reduce re-referrals."

The county council hope that by moving children's services to the new trust and giving it control over its own employee contracts, they will be able to recruit and retain more permanent social workers.

The new organisation will then be commissioned by the county council to deliver services, such as safeguarding, on its behalf, within an agreed cost.

It comes after strain to find more staff led to the announcement of a "golden hello" scheme in May, which would social workers in temporary contracts cash bonuses and extra annual leave to stay with the council.

Lesley Hagger said: "The new organisation will give us the freedom and flexibility to tackle the issue of recruiting and retaining high quality staff with clear workforce development and progression pathways.

“It will also mean fewer handover points, a single front door, a single assessment process, and more simplified and streamlined systems for frontline staff and managers."

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Matthew Golby said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education has chosen to award this significant grant to Northamptonshire to help with the introduction of a new innovative delivery model for children’s services.

“Our new children’s trust model will also give us the flexibility to improve working practices and address issue around the recruitment and retention of permanent social work staff to further improve the support we offer to children and young people across Northamptonshire.”