Essex County Council have been forced to take over improvements to the council's children's services after they were rated "inadequate" by Ofsted.

But Barnet Council will remain in control of the services during the review, which will end in September 2018 after four Ofsted inspections have taken place.

In a report from the Commissioner for Children's Services, she explains that Essex County Council will work with Barnet Council in a partnership to improve upon the "systemic failures" found by Ofsted in their July 2017 review.

However, the direction from the Secretary of State for Education has said the improvement plan will be "led and directed" by Essex County Council, particularly the chairman of the improvement board, Dave Hill, and that they must "comply with any instructions" laid out by the county.

The council has been asked to ensure they cooperate fully with the county in providing any documents, employees or documents they require to improve the service, and will review the service every six months to ensure sufficient progress has been made.

A Barnet Council spokesman has said it is important to remember that the services themselves will still be controlled by Barnet Council, and that further commissioner advice can be sought on whether alternative arrangements are necessary, rather than the partnership model which has been suggested.

The spokesman said: "In response, the Minister of State for Children and Families has written to Barnet Council regarding the commissioner’s report accepting this recommendation.

"In the letter, the minister stated he was encouraged to hear that the initial Ofsted follow up visit had gone well and that Barnet Council was showing early signs of improvement."

In the commissioner's report, she commends the council demonstrating "their commitment and determination to take the necessary action to bring about long-term improvement."

Cllr Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee, said: "We welcome this report from the children’s commissioner. The safety and welfare of children and young people in Barnet is our number one priority and we accept that we have fallen short of the care they need and deserve.

"We are pleased the report recommends that Barnet Council should retain control of children’s social care services, as well as highlighting how we have a committed and dedicated staff at every level of the organisation. We’re also encouraged to hear the minister feels we are showing signs of improvement.

"At the same time, we are in no way complacent, and recognise that we still have a long way to go to bring our services up the standard that children and young people deserve. This is despite the best efforts of officers and the political leadership over the past 18 months."

He added the council welcomes the recommendation that the leadership of the improvement programme should be directed by Essex County Council, who has a proven track record in practice improvement, and they will continue to focus on delivering a comprehensive action plan to make the necessary improvements.

Further clarification has been sought by Essex County Council.