Minister approves of improvement

In a letter to John Osman, leader of Somerset County Council, released with cabinet papers today, Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, praises a significant improvement in Children’s Services at Somerset County Council. In the aftermath of 2 “inadequate” Ofsted inspections, a team from Essex County Council were sent in by the Minister to help run an improvement plan. The letter is confirmation that some good things are starting to happen….

I am pleased to see …. significant improvement in Somerset’s children’s services, including more manageable case-loads, a more stable workforce and better partnership working. She notes that these changes have led to tangible improvements in social work practice, resulting in children and families receiving a considerably better service than previously. This is welcome news, which I know reflects hard work by you, your colleagues, staff and partners. Given Somerset’s improvement progress, I am minded not to escalate the Government’s intervention at this time.”

However that praise is qualified in as much as “that improvement has been made from a very low base, and that more remains to be done to secure the consistently good services that Somerset’s children and families deserve. I therefore expect Somerset to work at pace to address remaining service weaknesses. Essex County Council will continue to report to the Department on Somerset’s progress, and if this is insufficient, I will not hesitate to escalate the Government’s intervention.”

This is far from the end of a sad story, but it is certainly indicative of the sort of improvement that was sorely needed. Hopefully we will see more good news over the course of the next 12 months.


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