Wycombe Labour welcomed the resignation of Angela McPherson, BCC’s Cabinet member for Children’s Services, on Friday amid panic in BCC that its improvement plan would not be accepted by OFSTED.
On 8 August this year OFSTED’s report into BCC’s Children’s Services was published. It assessed the Children’s Services as inadequate – the lowest rating.
BCC is required to produce an Improvement Plan within 70 working days of the receipt of the final OFSTED report which BCC believe is 21st November. [Although BCC have refused to say when they received the report, 70 working days from publication would be 17 November].
The lead inspector for the OFSTED inspection team will then return to BCC to assess what progress has been made.
BCC have not yet approved an improvement plan. It is due to go to a Cabinet meeting on 10 November, 5 working days before the legal deadline.
The paper calls for another chunk of extra money - £2.1 million - bringing the total extra money for this year for Children’s Services to nearly £8 million, an increase of 20% of the original budget.
The paper to Cabinet does not mention the fact that BCC approved an extra £5.8 million on 8 September on the basis on an internal report. BCC refuse to disclose this report.
Meanwhile, Angela McPherson resigned on 7 November for personal reasons, the week before the Cabinet meeting and less than two weeks before the OFSTED deadline. BCC says a statement will be issued this week.
Linda Derrick, Wycombe Labour’s spokesperson for health and social care, said “I welcome Angela McPherson’s resignation. Wycombe Labour called for her resignation when the OFSTED report was published. She was the Cabinet member responsible for Children’s Services which was assessed as inadequate and as putting children at risk.
The demands on Children’s Services needed someone who was prepared to insist on extra funding to ensure children’s safety and she was either not prepared not or able to do that. We hope that whoever is appointed in her place will ensure that Children’s Services are now at the top of Bucks priorities and that child protection is now taken seriously by the Tories.
We can now see the panic within BCC as they try to convince OFSTED, and the Department for Education, that it can get BCC’s Children’s Services up to scratch. BCC has refused to release papers, it has muddied the waters on how much money it is injecting into Children’s Services and it is working right up to the wire to send its plan to OFSTED before the legal deadline.
We will see whether OFSTED is satisfied.
But whether it is or not, we now know that BCC’s Children’s Services was under-resourced by at least 20%. BCC did not spend the money it should have done and it put our most vulnerable children at risk.”