We will fix the Children’s social services which Conservative neglect drove into special measures.
- A children’s services that protects our children in care;
- Support for families and children in their formative years and
- An outstanding education system that enables every child to achieve their full potential.
Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats demand the best for the county’s vulnerable children, yet for the last ten years Children’s Social Services in Gloucestershire have been in special measures for having failed the vulnerable children in their care.
Being a good or outstanding social worker is hard – but without strong political leadership and support, it is an impossible job. For the last 16 years this Conservative administration has starved the system of the tens of millions of pounds it desperately needed, and wilfully turned a blind eye to the early warning signs of a system that was leaving vulnerable children in unacceptable situations of risk.
We have a plan and the ambition to turn this around and make Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services Outstanding.
Our plan involves:
- Investing more into capital projects to house and support more vulnerable children within Gloucestershire, rather than sending them out of county into distant and expensive care.
- Reviewing services that are contracted out to private businesses, with a view to bring services for vulnerable children and young people back in house. This provides better value for money, ensures continuity of care and improves results for these children.
- Changing the “it will do” culture, and striving to become an Outstanding authority.
- Investing more into our staff so they feel valued and supported and proud to work in Gloucestershire.
- Working with neighbouring authorities to develop a regional pay structure to entice social workers to Gloucestershire and the South-West, and prevent a constant one-upmanship which leads to spiralling pay and an unstable workforce.
- Better integration with local communities and community groups to deliver a range of services in Gloucestershire.
Since being labelled a “failing service” the Conservatives have never acknowledged their own part in this, instead choosing to blame council staff who were sacked. Your vote can change all of that.
We will reintegrate the County Council into the communities we serve.
Supporting vulnerable families before intervention is needed is just as critical as helping those in need now. Early help and advice help families stay together and provide better value for the taxpayer. Yet this has been an area the penny-wise-pound-foolish Conservative leadership has completely withdrawn from.
The Liberal Democrats would spend the money to bring the council back into the community, and reintroduce those universal services that will help families needing support. In doing so, we would:
- Establish new ways of helping parents in the first 1000 days of their children’s lives, ensuring they have the best possible start in their formative years and are well prepared for the start of formal education.
- Coordinate universal services across the county, bringing County Council owned sites back to life as hubs for families and young people alike.
- Install trusted adults in the community, for children, young people and families to turn to in times of need.
“THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WOULD SPEND THE MONEY TO BRING THE COUNCIL BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY, AND REINTRODUCE THOSE UNIVERSAL SERVICES THAT WILL HELP FAMILIES.”
Conservative cuts to education budgets have hit Gloucestershire hard, with a shortfall of over £15 million for our county’s schools every year as a result of measures introduced in 2015. These cuts have meant that schools and colleges have cut back on pastoral care, on staff numbers and even some subject choices.
The Liberal Democrats don’t think that’s fair on Gloucestershire’s children and that it is harming their long-term educational outcomes. That’s why, if elected, we’ll use our platform to fight for more money for our schools so that every child has access to an outstanding education.
In addition to this, we will:
- Invest in our county’s school buildings, including funding to help older schools to adapt to become carbon neutral, lowering our county’s emissions and saving the schools money;
- Work to narrow the gap in educational outcome between the most socially advantaged and disadvantaged pupils;
- Integrate youth services and school counsellors into our schools to provide pastoral care to all students in need of support;
- Review school provision planning, to ensure that there will be sufficient school places near where new houses are being built, not simply where it’s most convenient for the County Council;
- Protect and invest in all of our existing Special Schools and ensure that SEND provision is available as close to home as possible;
- Make small rural schools with relatively high costs per child more sustainable by increasing federation and support among non-academy schools.
Even in opposition, we have a track record of helping our children in education, this year we secured an extra £200,000 to help children’s development in their first 1,000 days and for those children at risk of exclusion. If elected as the majority party, we could do so much more.