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Directors of Children's Services have the 'job from hell' since the merger of local authorities' education and children's services, according to John Dunford of the ASCL. His argument is that a remit that makes one person accountable for the overall welfare and outcomes of all children in the borough will inevitably lead directors to prioritise avoidance of extreme abuse and neglect,  and make it difficult for schools to claim attention. His warning comes in the run up to the publication of Lord Laming's review into the changes.

Directors of Children's Services have the 'job from hell' since the merger of local authorities' education and children's services, according to John Dunford of the ASCL. His argument is that a remit that makes one person accountable for the overall welfare and outcomes of all children in the borough will inevitably lead directors to prioritise avoidance of extreme abuse and neglect,  and make it difficult for schools to claim attention. His warning comes in the run up to the publication of Lord Laming's review into the changes.

No-one should deny that the feedback of heads about the performance of their local authorities is important and needs to be listened to. Indeed, the growing number of vacancies implies that school leaders need more support than ever to meet the growing demands of government.

However, as the problems of implementation arising from this structural change become clear, and the growing demands for schools to take account of young people's welfare and wider development are felt, it will be used to attempt to force a change in overall direction. 

However, complexity and difficulty in implementation should not blind us to the importance of maintaining this direction of travel, particularly in the face of the coming years of austerity. It has been pointed out before on this blog that even though schools' money will be relatively protected, a constrained public purse and a weak private sector means we will see the welfare needs grow particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Some will argue that the views of heads mean schools should narrow their aims and stop confusing the job of teaching kids rather than caring about them. Indeed, I have heard head teachers express that view in those terms.

However, if we are to provide an education suitable for the 21st century, one that is truly flexible and responsive education that takes young people's needs seriously, we can't go back. Instead we must create the local structures whereby effective networks of local providers, with schools at their heart, can deliver across the wider range of ECM objectives.

Incidentally, in this regard I was recently reminded of NCSL's work with the Innovation Unit which is worth revisiting.

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