Protocol To Protect Councils From ‘Adviser Overload’ Is Launched

The Government and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services have launched a protocol to stop children’s services becoming deluged with national advisers and specialists.

The association drafted a document last year as a result of increasing unhappiness among children’s services directors, who feel harassed by Government field workers. But the Field Forces Improvement Support Protocol has now become a joint document, with signatories including National Strategies, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, and the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

David Hawker, director of children’s services at Brighton & Hove City Council, said it was a good start but could go further in the future. “It’s a good toe in the water, but I wouldn’t want to see it stop there,” he said. “I hope that in the future some of the funding of the field forces could be devolved to local authorities so they could buy in services.”

The protocol was launched by children’s minister Beverley Hughes at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services conference last week, and will ensure that the deployment of Government field forces is more targeted and co-ordinated. “We must move towards identifying with precision the key areas where we can make a difference,” she said. “We have to work smarter together.”

Regional government offices, which will now co-ordinate the work of field forces, will meet with partners to discuss the protocol and the Government expects new ways of working to be in place by September. Field forces will have to tailor their approach to local needs, and arrive at a local authority briefed about local issues.

Carol White, group director, children and young people’s services at Calderdale Council, who worked with the Government to create the protocol, said: “The protocol is intended to build on the already positive relationship with the Department for Children, Schools and Families.”