The men who recommended Doncaster's council should be stripped of responsibility for children’s services have been tasked with advising the Government on Birmingham City Council’s strugging department.
Professor Julian Le Grand of the London School of Economics and Alan Wood, director of children’s services in Hackney, have been asked by children’s minister Edward Timpson to assess progress being made at the authority, which has been rated as “inadequate” for four years.
The pair will be sent into the city instead of Ofsted, which was originally due to begin a review of the council’s services this month.
They will work alongside Isabelle Trowler, the Government’s chief social worker for children and families, in a move welcomed by city council leader Sir Albert Bore.
Prof Le Grand and Mr Wood produced a report for education secretary Michael Gove that described a “culture of failure” in Doncaster’s children’s services this year – and recommended handing responsibility instead to an independent trust.
This comes as the spectre of “special measures” hangs over the department, which has been beset by a number of child deaths.
In a letter to Sir Albert, Mr Timpson said he had ongoing concerns about the department.
It states: “In short, rather than ask Ofsted to make an inspection of progress, I have asked for a clear report advising me on the council’s plans for change, considering whether they are sufficient, what alternatives might be appropriate and what decisions I may need to take to ensure that the right action is taken.”
The trio will be asked to write a report on the “viability” of plans by Peter Hay, who was appointed as director of children’s services at the authority this summer, to turn the service around.
The letter also says they could recommend “alternative options”.
In response, Sir Albert said: “The independent approach from professionals and academics in the field of children’s social care will not only assess our plans for sustainable improvement but also test our own assessment of the progress we have made.
“This will lead to a report to Edward Timpson for him to ensure that the right action has been taken to ensure the safety of our children.”
Sir Albert added that he also welcomed the intention by children’s minister, Edward Timpson, to visit Birmingham himself in the near future and meet some of the city council’s social workers.