A detailed agreement for how Hampshire County Council and the Isle of Wight Council will work together to raise educational standards and improve child protection services on the Island has been published.
The proposals will be discussed at the Isle of Wight Council’s Full Council meeting tonight (19th June) and then again that same evening by the authority’s Cabinet, when the decision whether to enter into a strategic partnership arrangement will be formally made.
Under the agreement, John Coughlan, Hampshire County Council’s director of children’s services, will also take up the same statutory role on the Island and, supported by a senior management team from colleagues at Hampshire and staff on the Island, will be responsible for driving up educational standards and improving child safeguarding services on the Isle of Wight.
The partnership follows an Ofsted Inspection late last year that found children’s social care arrangements on the Island to be inadequate and also a subsequent Direction Notice from the government’s Department for Education that required the council to also address failings in its education system under which only one of the Island’s six secondary schools has been found to be good after recent Ofsted inspections.
Councillor Richard Priest, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for children’s services, said:
“The aim of this partnership is to ensure there are significant improvements across children’s services and in particular around safeguarding standards for vulnerable children and a focus on work with schools across the Island to drive up educational standards.“Our two authorities have enjoyed positive working relationships over many years and we are determined to work together to improve the lives of children and young people on the Island.“At a time of increasing pressures on children’s services and budgets, we believe this collaborative partnership can become an example for other authorities illustrating how they too can effectively share their expertise and resources to benefit their local communities.”
Under the arrangement, the partnership between the two authorities will last for five years with a review period after three years. The Isle of Wight Council will retain full political accountability and budgetary control over children’s services. In terms of child protection, a children’s safeguarding plan has been developed and progress against this will be monitored by a multi-agency Children’s Improvement Board with an independent chair.
The progress to improve educational attainment will be monitored by six-monthly reviews by the Department for Education.
Councillor Priest said:
“We will have a relentless focus on ensuring the arrangements are effective and above all make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people on the Island.”
Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for children’s services, said:
“For Hampshire County Council to be asked to establish a partnership by the Isle of Wight Council, is testament to our reputation for strongly performing children’s services and is a significant opportunity for both local authorities. For our part, we have the chance to offer assistance to our neighbour and develop an area of work as an extension of our capacity. Over the next few months, we will be working closely with the Isle of Wight Council to review its operations in order to identify what needs to be done so that, together, we can establish an action plan for improvement.”
The paper going before Full Council can be found at:https://www.iwight.com/Meetings/committees/mod-council/19-6-13/agenda.pdf
Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.