MPs call on new Children's Department to show who's in charge

24 APR 2008

The Children, Schools and Families Select Committee today publishes its report on the remit of the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Children's Plan.

The report criticizes the Children's Plan for its lack of clear targets and timescales for delivery. Although the Committee acknowledges that various parts of the Government working together present opportunities, it warns that "the problem with joint responsibility is that it might mean no effective responsibility, with each part of the system doing its own work but with no-one ensuring that it does all add up to coherent policy and actions."

The report states that apart from early years and 5 to 13 schooling, for which DCSF has sole responsibility, it appears the Department has joint responsibility and varying degrees of control for all other areas of children's policy. The Committee calls for the DCSF and the Secretary of State to demonstrate strong and decisive leadership to ensure effective and coherent policy making.

In their report the Committee says: "if the Children's Plan is to be more than simply a list of stated ambitions, it must state its main priorities and timetable for action. The Department should use its progress report later in the year to set out in greater clarity when it hopes to achieve some of its main policy proposals."

The Committee calls the DCSF's 'plethora of indicators' 'unsatisfactory', the DCSF measures it's performance against five Every Child Matters outcomes, six strategic objectives and five PSA objectives. The report says the Department must be clear about what its priorities are.

The Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Committee, Barry Sheerman MP, said: "The Children's Plan provides an opportunity to make a tangible and lasting difference not just to children's education but to children's services across the board. We urge the Government to be clear about what it hopes to achieve through this ambitious plan."

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