Hampshire to run Isle of Wight children's services

Isle of Wight Council sign Four of the Isle of Wight's secondary schools were rated "inadequate" in their last Ofsted inspections

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Hampshire County Council is to take over the running of the Isle of Wight's children's services for five years.

Ofsted ranked the island's child protection services "inadequate" in November, while the Department for Education (DfE) also raised concerns about its schools.

The government subsequently directed Isle of Wight Council to establish a strategic partnership with Hampshire.

The deal is expected to be agreed by the island's council on Wednesday.

Isle of Wight Council will remain financially accountable and will fund the costs of the arrangement.

The island's children's services councillor, Richard Priest, said the partnership aimed to drive up educational standards and improve children's services, in particular safeguarding standards for vulnerable children.

He said: "At a time of increasing pressures on children's services and budgets, we believe this collaborative partnership can become an example for other authorities illustrating how they, too, can effectively share their expertise and resources to benefit their local communities."

'Worst in country'

Hampshire's children's services councillor, Keith Mans, said: "I am confident that we can now move forward in supporting the Isle of Wight Council without compromising our responsibilities and services for children and young people in Hampshire, and without any impact on the county council's budgets."

According to a Hampshire report, in November 2012 an Ofsted inspection found the island's children's social services to be "inadequate across all of the domains of the inspection".

The report also said the DfE had expressed concern that the island had a "disproportionate number of secondary schools which require significant improvement or require special measures" and that absence rates at secondary schools were "the worst in the country".

Ofsted inspectors returned to the island this week after their last report ranked four of the island's six secondary schools "inadequate" - the lowest grade. Another was ranked as "requiring improvement", while the sixth was rated "good".

A new Isle of Wight Council administration was formed following last month's election by a group of 20 independent councillors, inheriting a previously Conservative-led council.

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