After five years Reading Council’s Children’s Services has become free from government intervention.
Intervention started in 2016 after the Council received a notice of direction having been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors. A further inspection in 2019 evidenced improvements with the raring uplifted to ‘requires improvement to be good’ however, a recent report by children’s services commissioner Nick Whitfield acknowledged further improvements and recommended the removal of government intervention.
Children’s minister Vicky Ford has responded by confirming she is lifting the direction with immediate effect. In a letter to council leader Jason Brock she acknowledges “significant improvement” since Ofsted’s inspection in 2016 and states: “Elected members, senior leaders, partners and staff at all levels in Reading have demonstrated a commitment to achieving this. In doing so, Reading has ensured that vulnerable children and families now have access to an improved quality of service.
“This is an important and well-deserved step but there is still more work to do. I will be asking my officials to stay close to your continuing improvement journey, and, to that end, Reading will now enter a period of ‘support and supervision’, in line with all authorities who exit formal intervention.”
Lead councillor for children’s services, Liz Terry said: “This is hugely welcome news for all staff working with children and families, whether at the council or Brighter Futures for Children, who have worked so tirelessly over the last five years to drive forward improvements to children’s services in Reading. What is even more impressive is that improvements have continued during the pandemic, which continues to throw up huge challenges for children’s services and local government, which are likely to continue for some years to come.”