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Action research into improvement in local children's services: Practical implications for lead members and senior leaders

Keeping children safe is one of the most important things councils do and it is right that our children’s services come under significant scrutiny from Ofsted, the Department for Education (DfE) and the media. Ofsted have sought to “raise the bar” with the introduction of the more challenging single inspection framework in 2013, but the sector has responded to the challenge, with 75% of councils that have been inspected under the single inspection framework being judged requires improvement or better.

There has already been significant debate around the value of the current inspection arrangements and their role in driving improvement; this report does not seek to repeat these arguments. Instead, it looks at the practical question of what drives continued, sustainable improvement in children’s services, with examples of practical steps that all councils – irrespective of Ofsted rating – can take
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It is clear that, collectively, we have the knowledge and experience of what “good” looks like, so the importance of sector-led support to improve children’s services should not be underestimated. We do not work in isolation, however, so the contribution of both Ofsted and the DfE to this report is valuable. The Local Government Association (LGA), alongside the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE), has been working with both organisations to look at how we can work together to drive improvement in children’s services. We all have a role to play, both in supporting councils to prevent build and maintain standards in their children’s services, and in providing support to those that need it.

The evidence in this report makes clear that children’s services should not be seen in isolation. It will be down to you, whether you are a councillor or officer, and whatever your level in the organisation, to play your part to make sure your council’s children’s services continually improve to meet the needs of children who need our help most.