Bridgwater South Councillor chairs first ‘Policy,Children & Families’ Scrutiny meeting

Leigh Redman (Bridgater South) Chair;s the new County Scrutiny committee

A new independent committee met for the first time today to discuss the progress being made to improve Children’s Services in Somerset.

The Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee is chaired by Cllr Leigh Redman and was formed in May 2015. It will provide additional councillor oversight on all services provided for children and young people by Somerset County Council and partners.

This independent committee will help inform and assess the journey of improvement the council and key partners must make to ensure that all children and young people receive the best possible care and support in Somerset.

Nine Priorities for Improvement

Members of the committee today heard from Julian Wooster, Director of Children’s Services for Somerset County Council. He set out his nine priorities for improvement and told the committee about plans to recruit 50 permanent social workers by April 2016.

He also explained the work being done to improve partnership working, reinforcing the message that the health, safety and wellbeing of all children in Somerset is everyone’s responsibility.

Members also welcomed recommendations to provide a written policy on elective home education that gives parents the opportunity to access important information about their legal responsibility to ensure their child is educated. More evidence from parents will also be collected to understand why they choose to educate their child at home and to ensure every child in Somerset is receiving a good level of education.

‘Inadequate is unacceptable’

Following the meeting Cllr Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South,Labour) said “Chairing this committee is a chance for members to scrutinize the council on its Ofsted journey, inadequate is unacceptable! The children in our care deserve better, I made the point that this committee must play its part, we will be using task & finish groups to deep dive any issue we feel needs our attention, we need to act as critical friend supporting the DCS and all staff. I look forward to the challenge and hope the new committee will take up the challenge with me.”

The next meeting of the Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families will take place on Friday 3 July.

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