This guidance from the DfE, published in April 2012, replaces the previous versions, issued in 2005 and 2009. Local authorities in England must have regard to it in relation to the appointment of the Director of Children’s Services (DCS) and the designation of the Lead Member for Children’s Services (LMCS). This guidance covers the legislative basis for the two appointments, roles and responsibilities of the post holders, and how this relates to Government expectations about local authorities’ role in education and children and young people’s services.
This document is issued under sections 18(7) (Director of Children’s Services) and 19(2) (Lead Member for Children’s Services) of the Children Act 2004. This means that local authorities must have regard to it and, if they decide to depart from it, they will need to have clear reasons for doing so.
Download the whole document as a pdf or access the relevant DfE pages here:
- Statutory guidance for children’s services chiefs
- The director of children’s services
- Roles and Responsibilities of the DCS and LMCS
- Fair access to services
- The Children Act 2004 requires every upper tier local authority to appoint a Director of Children’s Services and designate a Lead Member for Children’s Services.
- The DCS and LMCS are appointed for the purposes of discharging the education and children’s social services functions of the local authority. The functions for which they are responsible are set out in section 18(2) of the Children Act 2004. This includes (but is not limited to) responsibility for children and young people receiving education or children’s social care services in their area and all children looked after by the local authority or in custody (regardless of where they are placed).
- Within this legal framework, it is for individual local authorities to determine their own organisational structures in the light of their local circumstances. However, local authorities must ensure that there is both a single officer and a single elected member each responsible for both education and children’s social care. The DCS and LMCS should each have an integrated children’s services brief, ensuring that the safety and the educational, social and emotional needs of children and young people are central to the local vision. Between them, the DCS and LMCS provide a clear and unambiguous line of local accountability.
- The DCS has professional responsibility for children’s services, including operational matters; the LMCS has political responsibility for children’s services. Together with the Chief Executive and Leader or Mayor2, the DCS and LMCS have a key leadership role both within the local authority and working with other local agencies to improve outcomes for children and young people.
- The DCS is a politically restricted statutory chief officer post; they should be a first tier officer and report directly to the Chief Executive.
- Local authorities should, as a matter of course, assure themselves that their arrangements enable them to discharge their education and children’s social care functions effectively.
- Given the breadth and importance of children’s services functions that the DCS and LMCS cover, local authorities should give due consideration to protecting the discrete roles and responsibilities of the DCS and LMCS before allocating to them any additional functions other than children’s services.
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12. It is legally permissible for two or more local authorities to appoint a single joint DCS to cover children’s services responsibilities across all the local authority areas concerned.
17. Local authorities are bound by some 200 statutory duties covering education and children’s social care. The way in which the roles and responsibilities of the DCS and LMCS are fulfilled will vary between different places and change over time. This guidance does not attempt to cover all these duties in detail but the key aspects of those roles are outlined below.
21. Local authorities must comply with the duties set out in the Equality Act 2010, which means that, as well as ensuring that they do not discriminate unlawfully, DCSs and LMCSs must take into account the likely impact of their policies and decisions on specified groups. In doing so, particular consideration should be given to Article 2 of the UNCRC. Local authorities should also maintain an audit trail to demonstrate how equalities matters were considered as part of the decision-making process.
27. Local authorities should promote the interests of children, young people, parents and families and work with local communities to stimulate and support a diversity of school, early years and 16-19 provision that meets local needs. More specifically, the DCS and LMCS in their respective roles:
· must ensure fair access to all schools for every child in accordance with the statutory School Admissions and School Admissions Appeal Codes and ensure appropriate information is provided to parents;
· must ensure provision for suitable home to school transport arrangements;
· should actively promote a diverse supply of strong schools, including by encouraging good schools to expand and, where there is a need for a new school, seeking proposals for an Academy or Free School;
· should promote high quality early years provision, including helping to develop the market, securing free early education for all three and four year olds and for all disadvantaged two year olds9, providing information, advice and assistance to parents and prospective parents, and ensuring there are sufficient Sure Start children’s centre services to meet local need and sufficient childcare for working parents;
· must secure access for young people to sufficient educational and recreational leisure-time activities and facilities for the improvement of their well-being and personal and social development;
· should promote children’s and young people’s participation in public decision-making so they can influence local commissioners; and
· should promote participation in education or training of young people, including by securing provision for young people aged 16-19 (or 25 for those with learning difficulties/disabilities).
28. Working with headteachers, school governors and academy sponsors and principals, local authorities should promote educational excellence for all children and young people and be ambitious in tackling underperformance. More specifically, the DCS and LMCS should in their respective roles:
· take rapid and decisive action in relation to poorly performing schools, including using their intervention powers with regard to maintained schools and considering alternative structural and operational solutions;
· develop robust school improvement strategies, including choosing whether to offer such services in a competitive and open school improvement market, working beyond local authority boundaries;
· promote high standards in education by supporting effective school to school collaboration and providing local leadership for tackling issues needing attention which cut across more than one school, such as poor performance in a particular subject area across a cluster of schools;
· support maintained schools in delivering an appropriate National Curriculum and early years providers in meeting the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (as outlined in the EYFS Statutory Framework);
· establish a schools forum for their area, maintain a scheme for financing maintained schools and provide financial information; and
· undertake specified responsibilities in relation to staffing and governance of maintained schools.
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