Education secretary Gavin Williamson has given Stoke-on-Trent City Council three months to establish a partnership with another council to deliver children’s social care.
Ofsted rated the council’s children’s services ‘inadequate’ earlier this year, prompting the council to invest £5.5m into more than 130 new social care posts.
After a four-month review by commissioner Eleanor Brazil, Mr Williamson has given the council until the end of January to establish an agreed formal partnership arrangement with a 'strong-performing’ local authority to provide support.
Mr Williamson’s direction said that the partnership must be agreed by the secretary of state and that if it cannot be brokered alternative arrangements for delivering services would need to be sought.
Council leader, Cllr Abi Brown, said: 'We are fully committed to working with the Department for Education and minister to identify the right partner authority that will allow us to make the progress we need to make for the benefit of all children in the city.
‘We know the challenge we are facing is significant, but we are determined to provide the best possible support we can for the children of Stoke-on-Trent and will do all that is needed to make this happen.'
Cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Dave Evans, added: ‘The children’s commissioner recognised through the review that progress is beginning to be made on some issues but that the pace of change is too slow.
‘It is going to take time and a lot of hard work and commitment, but, with the additional expert advice and support that is being provided by Government, we’re confident that improvements can be delivered across all aspects of children services.’