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‘Dogma, drift and decay’…situation normal for Birmingham children’s services

‘Dogma, drift and decay’…situation normal for Birmingham children’s services

🕔11.Jul 2013

rowThe sense of drift and decay hanging over Birmingham children’s services department has intensified after senior officials were accused of being driven by ‘dogma’ and ignoring instructions given by city council leaders.

A tense scrutiny committee meeting saw councillors from across the political divide tear into a green paper setting out a new strategy for 42,000 children and young adults with special educational needs.

The document, which has been re-written at least seven times, was described as incomprehensible even for professionals to follow and certainly beyond the understanding of most parents.

The session was electrified by a barnstorming performance from Matt Bennett, the Conservative former executive member for children’s services, who lost his council seat at the 2012 election.

Mr Bennett spoke at length about the frustration felt by the council’s former Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition during its final months in office.

He said an attempt by himself and the then cabinet member Les Lawrence to have under-performing officers removed was simply ignored, while education officials were determined to press ahead with plans to have all special needs children educated in mainstream schools against the wishes of the ruling coalition.

Mr Bennett added: “I believe that there’s an ideology at work in the directorate which is entirely independent of political control. Officials will drive the pro-inclusion agenda no matter what.”

Officials also failed to respond to instructions to publish an independent report highly critical of Birmingham’s special needs strategy. The report described the strategy as deeply flawed.

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