At last week’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel, the creation of a Children’s Improvement Board (CIB) as part of the Action Plan to improve child protection on the Island was revealed.
Director of service, Ian Anderson, advised that the CIB is a requirement from the Department for Education following the damning Ofsted report that found the Isle of Wight council ‘inadequate’ in child protection.
The board will include officers from the local authority, as well as the clinical commissioning group of the NHS, Police and other partners.
Awaiting deliberations from Minister
Mr Anderson explained the council are expecting an Improvement Notice from the Government Minister in the next week or so. This will outline what is expected of the council in terms of improvement.
The council will then be able set out their programme of works for the next 18 months to two years. He said that although they would be able to make ‘rapid improvements’, it was important to make sure the improvements were sustainable.
Good performance management
Rachel Dominey has been seconded from IW NHS Trust to act as improvement programme manager. She’ll ensure a ‘good quality plan’ with ‘good performance management’ ensuring delivery, said Mr Anderson.
He went on to say that the CIB will act as the interface between the Minister and local authority.
It is to all intents and purposes the “eyes and ears of the Minister”, he said, assuring the Minister that progress is being made as it should be.
Professor Ray Jones, a long-standing director of social services and children’s services, will sit as independent chair of the Board.
He has worked with two other councils in a similar position to the Island, one of which has now moved out of ‘inadequate’ status. According to Mr Anderson, Professor Jones comes, “Very highly recommended by the Department for Education and National Children’s Improvement Board.
“I think he will be a real asset to us going forward,” said Mr Anderson.
Staff feedback is “welcoming and optimistic”
The CIB will implement the recommendations made by the Ofsted inspection, as well as making sure that everyone at every level understands what is required and how they can contribute to making an impact. Clear lines of accountability will be enforced, Mr Anderson said.
When later asked what sort of feedback staff in the department had given to the Action Plan, Mr Anderson reported that the reaction was “welcoming and optimistic”.
The actual ‘improvement plan’ will not be populated until deliberations have been received from the Government Minister.
Press, public and other members from the council will be excluded from observing proceedings at CIB meetings. We’re told this is standard practice across the UK, as individual cases are discussed during the meetings, making it inappropriate for press or the public to attend.
Chief Executive, Steve Beynon, assured members that he’d be recommending a summary from the chair is sent to all members.
First meeting of the Children’s Improvement Board will take place on 23rd April.
The report outlining the Action Plan is embedded below for your convenience.