Release Date: 10/07/2012
The London Boroughs of Richmond and Kingston have today announced that with immediate effect Richmond’s Director of Children’s Services Nick Whitfield will become Joint Director for the two boroughs.
The two boroughs have been working for over a year now to examine scope for bringing their children’s services together in a social enterprise, Achieving for Children which would provide children’s services to both boroughs.
Following Kingston’s poor OFSTED inspection of specialist children’s services, Kingston have sought Richmond’s assistance in order to make rapid progress in addressing OFSTED’s concerns. Richmond, who very recently received a good grading for their services, was keen to support their neighbour if possible in order to help safeguard vulnerable children.
In addition to the Director, Richmond’s Deputy Director and Head of Safeguarding Services, Barbara Murray will be spending a substantial part of her time in Kingston over the next few months whilst other senior Richmond staff in Children’s Services take on greater responsibilities in Richmond. The inital plan will be applied over several months, to ensure that the arrangement works for both authorities. After which, subject to good progress having been made, the integration of services will be accelerated within Achieving for Children.
Cllr Lord True commented, “When we were advised that Kingston’s services had been judged inadequate we had to think carefully about whether we could continue with our plans to share services with Kingston as the prelude to the creation of a social enterprise. After all, our first priority has to be – and always will be - to Richmond children and parents. But we are not simply fair weather friends. The Council’s Chief Executive and Director of Children’s Services have advised how we could minimise risks. We have therefore agreed to proceed, at least initially on an interim basis. I hope that from the resolution of this problem a new and promising phase in the delivery of public services will emerge, shared and in a social enterprise model. I believe this has every potential to be good for children, their parents and taxpayers. We remember too, that Government is encouraging this kind of collaborative work between authorities and we fully support that philosophy.”
Cllr Derek Osbourne, Leader of Kingston commented, “Given Kingston’s track record of excellence in children’s services the OFSTED report was both a terrible shock and blow. But we are also an authority with a track record of getting to grips with problems and sorting them. We were already in discussion with Richmond and Nick Whitfield was an Assistant Director here before he was promoted to Richmond. We are delighted that he is to become Joint Director and have every confidence that these initial plans will address both the immediate problem but also our longer term objectives of innovation and excellence.”