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Independent board to lead improvements in Children’s Services

25 October 2023

Members will be asked to approve the establishment of an Independent Children’s Board to oversee and drive improvements to services provided to children by the council and its partners.

The report requesting approval will go before Peterborough City Council’s Full Council meeting next Wednesday (1 November).

It follows an Improvement Notice issued by Ofsted in August which confirmed that the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan MP, had chosen to appoint an adviser to provide advice to her department and the city council and its partners on the improvements needed to Children’s Services in Peterborough. As part of this the council was also required to establish an Independent Children’s Board.

The Improvement Notice was in response to a focussed visit by Ofsted in March to assess the quality of the council’s front door arrangements which found areas for improvement. The front door is managed by the council, police and NHS and is the Ofsted recognised that many areas they had identified for improvement were already known by the council and steps were being taken to address them.

At the Full Council meeting on 1 November, members will be asked to approve Sally Rowe, ex-Director of Children’s Services and expert in leading Children’s Services improvements, as the Independent Children’s Board chairperson.

Councillor Jackie Allen, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services for Peterborough City Council, said: “Following the inspection in March, the council drafted a detailed action plan with its partners covering the areas identified for improvement in the Ofsted letter. We started implementing the requirements immediately and this work continues.

“The Improvement Board will oversee the implementation of this plan and offer expert advice and support, giving the council and its partners, the support they need to be able to make rapid improvements to the services offered to children and families in Peterborough.

“The council as a whole has been supported by an Improvement Panel for the past 18 months, which has led to significant improvements across the board.

“With the same level of support and external challenge from people who have significant experience in children’s services, I believe we can see rapid improvement where it is needed.

"We are committed to improving children's services and offering the best services possible to our children and families."

The purpose of the board will be to support and challenge the council and its partners, including the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP), to secure sustainable improvements and high-level performance in children's services and the wider system to achieve improved outcomes for children.

It will also be responsible for ensuring that all recommendations set out in the Ofsted reports are owned and implemented by the city council and its partners.

The board will be made up of senior leaders from the sector, politicians and partners who will provide support and challenge to our improvement. This includes the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, representatives from the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership, police, health, Department for Education, Local Government Association.

The board will meet for the first time in November.