Essex County Council has clarified its role leading the improvement of Barnet Council’s children's services.

Barnet Council's children's services received an "inadequate" rating from Ofsted, the children's service regulator, in July last year.

A direction from the Secretary of State for Education called on David Hill, ECC's executive director for social care and education, to lead the work with Barnet Council to improve upon this report, with support from other staff from Essex.

A spokesman from the county council said it has been brought in due to its proven track record in helping other councils improve, and has been working with the authority for some months.

The Ofsted report, published in July last year, pointed out "widespread and serious failures provided to children and their families in Barnet" and referenced a "legacy of widespread poor practice and ongoing systemic failures and services that neither adequately ensure the safety, nor promote the welfare of children and young people."

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The authority was given a "requires improvement" rating for its adoption performance and experience and progress of young people leaving care, but across the board the rating was "inadequate".

The ECC spokesman said: "Both Essex and Barnet are very clear that the relationship between the two organisations is about supporting Barnet to succeed, not about Essex doing work ‘for’ or ‘to’ them.

"ECC is working intensively with Barnet at present and will look to provide less intensive support as time goes by.

"Dave Hill is chairman of the Barnet improvement board and he, alongside other colleagues from Essex, will be coaching and mentoring senior Barnet staff."

But Barnet Council is retaining control of children’s services, as written in the direction, with Chris Munday remaining as the service's director.

The spokesman continued: "The aim of the partnership is to support Barnet in remaining independent and ensuring the welfare of children and young people in the area are kept at the heart of this work."

The partnership will be reviewed in the summer of 2018.