24 Sep 2023
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Lib Dem Leader and Councillor Liz Leffman said:

“We are sorry. Too many children and families have not had the support they deserve. We are committed to improving the experience of children and families in Oxfordshire.

"Ofsted’s judgement of our performance is clear, concise and pointed to areas where we need to improve performance. Although this is challenging within the current funding formula from the government at Westminster, other councils have demonstrated what can be achieved."

"I am therefore deeply disappointed that Labour have decided to leave the Fair Deal Alliance rather than make the changes in leadership that are needed to improve these vital services."

"I will be taking immediate action to ensure that strong and effective leadership is put in place to improve the County Council's support for children with Special Educational Needs and to rebuild confidence with parents."

On Friday 15th September Ofsted published their SEND report for Oxfordshire, which identified systemic failures over a long period.  The county council has accepted these shortcomings and committed to action to improve the experience of children and families. Since the report was released, several parent groups from across the county have called for Councillor Liz Brighouse’s resignation.

Following the publication of the report, Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, asked Cllr Liz Brighouse to resign her position as Cabinet member for Children’s Services, which she refused to do.

The Lib Dems and the Greens proposed a cabinet reshuffle to the Labour group, suggesting that Cllr Brighouse take an alternative cabinet post. However, Labour have instead chosen to pull out of the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance, a partnership between the Lib Dems, the Greens and Labour who currently run the administration at Oxfordshire County Council.

"I’m disappointed that Labour have chosen to leave the alliance," said Cllr Leffman.

"The Ofsted report has shown this portfolio needs the undivided attention of a cabinet member who can overhaul the service and rebuild relations with parents. It has been clear since the publication of the report that Cllr Brighouse has lost the support of many parents.”

Green Group Leader Ian Middleton said:

“These are serious issues that we need to resolve with a new approach which will inevitably mean a new person in the Children's Services Cabinet role. It's disappointing that the Labour group did not agree with that, but it's now time to put politics aside and get on with the job of ensuring Oxfordshire's children get the support that they so desperately need"

Cllr Leffman and Cllr Middleton thanked Labour councillors that had served on the cabinet and in administration since 2021 for their service to the Oxfordshire Fair Deal alliance and their hard work on behalf of the people of Oxfordshire.

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