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MPs demand action from new Education Secretary as Children's Services found lacking

27 September 2022

Cross-party MPs have written to the newly appointed Education Secretary, Kit Malthouse, raising serious concerns about the failures in leadership at Solihull and Bradford Councils, following the murders of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in 2020. Following an accountability hearing with the Chief Executives and Interim Directors of Children’s Services at both Solihull and Bradford Councils in June this year, the Committee condemned the 'inadequate' response of local authority leaders and called on the Department for Education and Ofsted to assess the progress made at both councils within the timeframes set out by the Councils’ Executives.

Highlighting a 'clear deterioration' in standards at both Children's Services, predating the pandemic, under both Chief Executives' tenures, the letter asks Malthouse to consider whether the leaders are 'capable of continuing to try and establish significant change'.  

The MPs also question the urgency with which the National Child Safeguarding Review Panel has sought to push forward improvements at the failing Councils. While a new Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub system is put forward as the silver bullet for future shortcomings, the Committee expresses concerns that such an approach would shift accountability between agencies, leaving no one person ultimately responsible for vulnerable children like Arthur and Star.  

Chair's comments

Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon MP, said: 

"The deaths of Arthur and Star were harrowing. Both Bradford and Solihull Councils' Children's Services were in dire need of improvements even before the lockdowns. Action was not taken, and two children lost their lives.  

The new Education Secretary must prioritise the vulnerable children currently being failed by these authorities and take the steps to ensure targets for improvement are being met, and fast. There must be accountability, and it is essential that the leaders responsible for the most at-risk children in our society are up to the job." 

Further information

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