Significant steps have been taken to form the new company which will run Reading’s Children Services.

The company now has a name, a company Chair and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to move forward the creation of the organisation. A grant of £2.9m to implement the project has been agreed by the Secretary of State.

Brighter Futures for Children has been chosen as the name for the new company following a consultation involving young people, residents and Council officers across Reading.

The company has started to form its new senior leadership team. Deborah Jenkins MBE DL has been appointed as Chair in a joint decision by the Council, Department for Education (DfE) and the Children’s Commissioner Nick Whitfield.  Ms Jenkins’ experience as Chair for Together for Children in Sunderland will be invaluable in driving improvements in Reading.

The first official steps in the formation of Brighter Futures for Children has been completed as the Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed between Reading Borough Council and the DfE, meaning the company has officially agreed the outline for its terms, requirements and responsibilities.

Plans for the new organisation were developed by the Council in partnership with Nick Whitfield, the government’s Commissioner for Children’s Services, and the Department for Education.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, the Leader of Reading Borough Council, said:

“It is exciting that good progress is being made in setting up the new children’s company which will provide Children’s Social Care, Early Help, Education and Health Services in Reading.

“The creation of Brighter Futures for Children will allow a fundamental change in the way children’s services are delivered in Reading and will build on the tremendous amount of hard work that has already gone into driving the service forward.”

Peter Sloman, Chief Executive of Reading Borough Council, said:

“The formation of the new company for Reading’s children’s services is now building momentum.

“Brighter Futures for Children is set to bring the flexibility for change that is needed in Reading.  I look forward to seeing the company progress in the coming months and welcome the opportunity it will bring to deliver services differently for the children and young people of Reading.”

Ms Jenkins said:

“I’m very excited to be joining the team at Brighter Futures for Children on a journey which will bring real opportunities for the children and young people of Reading.

“My experience of Chairing Sunderland’s children’s services has shown that the independence created by having the new company has brought a real chance to do things with a fresh approach and to be different to what has gone before.

“I’m looking forward to meeting children, staff and partners to understand what’s working and what needs to change.  If we can listen to each other, share ideas and work together, I have every confidence that we can use this once in a generation chance to improve life chances for children.”

Notes to editors

Reading Borough Council has been working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) to drive improvement in Children’s Services following an Ofsted inspection in 2016. DfE appointed Commissioner Nick Whitfield recommended that the Council’s Children’s Services should be transferred to a company, wholly-owned by the Council.

The Council supported the recommendation to establish a company to deliver children’s social care, early help, education and health services.

The aim is to have a shadow company in place by mid-summer 2018 and for the company to go live in October 2018.