DfE commissioner to decide future of children's services at 'inadequate' council

Neil Puffett
Monday, March 5, 2018

The Department for Education has appointed the chief executive of Hampshire County Council to decide whether children's services at a local authority where provision was rated "inadequate" by Ofsted should remain in the hands of the council.

Buckinghamshire County Council's children's services were rated "inadequate" in August 2014. Picture: Buckinghamshire County Council
Buckinghamshire County Council's children's services were rated "inadequate" in August 2014. Picture: Buckinghamshire County Council

John Coughlan, a former president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services and currently chief executive at Hampshire County Council, has been tasked with assessing the prospects for improvement at Buckinghamshire County Council.

Buckinghamshire's children's services department was originally rated inadequate in 2014. A reinspection of services, published in January, found that children continued to be left at risk for too long, which resulted in the department being graded inadequate again.

A direction notice issued to the council states that Coughlan will conduct a review to determine "whether the most effective way of securing and sustaining improvement in Buckinghamshire is to remove the control of children's social care from the council for a period of time".

Coughlan was previously appointed by government to temporarily take over children's services in Haringey in 2008 to help improve services in the wake of the publication of a serious case review into the death of Peter Connelly, also known as "Baby P".

He was director of children's services in Hampshire since 2005, prior to being appointed as chief executive of the local authority in 2015.

He has also previously been appointed to be children's services commissioner at Torbay Council, where last year he recommended that Plymouth Council be drafted in to deliver children's services on Torbay's behalf.

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