08 March 2018

Burges Salmon has been advising on the Department for Education’s children’s services intervention programme since its inception five years ago. Most recently, the firm was appointed to advise on Reading Borough Council’s project, which involves the restructuring of failing children’s social care services and the transfer of such services into a new, independent children’s service company.

Government views these as critical projects, and a case study of our work on this programme was presented to the Crown Commercial Service (“CCS”) as part of our successful pitch to become a Tier 1 supplier on the CCS legal panel.

The Burges Salmon team has worked on all cases to date in the UK where Alternative Delivery Models (ADMs) have been used to restructure failing children’s social care services, and Reading is the sixth project of this kind. 

Initially, the firm advised on the successful transfer of children’s services from Doncaster (which had been consistently rated as “inadequate” by Ofsted) into a new independent company called Doncaster Children’s Services Trust. This was the first ADM of its kind in the UK, following a Statutory Direction issued by the Secretary of State for Education.

In January 2018, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust received an overall ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted – a significant improvement and testament to the effectiveness of the new business model applied.

Matt, lead partner in the team, comments: “We were delighted when we heard that Doncaster had achieved its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating. Issuing the first Statutory Direction of this kind was a complex and difficult decision that had to be made by Government, but it’s proved to be the right decision. It was a huge learning curve for everyone involved, and since then we’ve refined and tailored the model to ensure we strike the right balance and achieve the best result for the councils subject to the interventions, the DfE, the new organisations, and ultimately the children in their care.

“The Ofsted rating shows significant development in the delivery of children’s social care services as it proves that when used in the right circumstances, ADMs can transform service delivery for the better. Despite funding being cut year-on-year, the demand for children’s social care services is increasing and a quarter of local authorities are currently rated as ‘inadequate’. It is highly likely that the use of ADMs in this sector will continue to grow and hopefully continue to improve the services for children, young people and their families.”

Key contact

Matthew Ramus

Matthew Ramus Partner

  • Head of Education
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