(2) what communications his Department has received on safeguarding in Doncaster from (a) the Director for Children and Learners in the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber and (b) the Children's Services Adviser in the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber since 1 January 2004; and on what date each was received;
(3) if he will place in the Library a copy of every item of correspondence between his Department, Ofsted, Doncaster children's services and the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board, since January 2007;
(4) if he will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of meetings which (a) the Secretary of State, (b) Ministers in his Department and its predecessor and (c) departmental officials have attended at which safeguarding in Doncaster has been discussed in each year since 2005.
(2) whether (a) he, (b) the Director of Children and Learners in the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber and (c) the Children Services Improvement Adviser in the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, received a copy of the internal report on safeguarding in Doncaster authored in 2007 by Bron Sanders.
[holding answers 28 January and 1 February 2010]: The report by Bron Sanders on the Organisation and Management Review of Duty and Assessment and Urban CSSW Teams was published by Doncaster metropolitan borough council in April 2009. Neither my Department nor the Government office for Yorkshire and the Humber (GOYH) have found anything in our records which indicates that any Minister or official in DCSF or GOYH received a copy of the report prior to its publication.
(2) what meetings (a) the Director of Children and Learners and (b) the Children Services Improvement Adviser in the Government office of Yorkshire and the Humber have had with (i) Doncaster council, (ii) representatives of his Department and (iii) others on serious case reviews and child protection in Doncaster since 2004.
[holding answers 2 and 8 February 2010]: Since assuming responsibility for supporting and challenging safeguarding performance in LAs in April 2007, Government office for Yorkshire and the Humber (GOYH) officials have met council officials regularly regarding safeguarding and other aspects of children's services.
Following Ofsted's publication of the 2008 APA (Annual Performance Assessment) which rated Doncaster's children's services “inadequate”, Ministers and DCSF officials met with the council to discuss the required improvements, and how best to drive them forward. Ministers have since met with the Mayor, council members and council officers over the course of the intervention to discuss the progress of the improvement agenda.
Ministers issued a direction on 12 March 2009, requiring the council to establish an Improvement Board to advise, scrutinise and challenge the council in their improvement planning and work. This has met on a monthly basis, and included officials from DCSF and GOYH in an observer capacity.
Since August 2009, a monthly Performance Challenge meeting chaired by GOYH has run alongside the Improvement Board, and included council members and officers and DCSF officials in its membership; this meeting was designed to provide more detailed scrutiny, challenge and support to specific performance areas.
A new Children's Board (succeeding the Improvement Board), which met for the first time on 29 January 2010, is designed to advise and support the council's and partners' strategic leadership of children's services; DCSF and GOYH representatives attend in an observer capacity.
Safeguarding children and child protection were the primary focus of these meetings; responses to Serious Case Reviews were included in the discussion where relevant.