Scrutiny of Children’s Services- A Short Guide

Posted on 20/03/2023 by Megan Ingle.

What is this guide about?

This guide aims to provide an overview of the main components that comprise of Children’s Services within local authorities. This will include:

  • Practical guidance for members scrutinising safeguarding;
  • The role of the scrutiny function and elected councillors in aiding school improvement;
  • How scrutiny can influence the local education sector to improve results and strengthen links between the local authority and schools;
  • How scrutiny can ensure that they are effectively scrutinising services for looked after children;


This publication seeks to bring together a number of publications that CfGS have previously published and sought to refresh these and repackage as a guide to Children’s Services within local authorities. Below are the publications that have been incorporated into this guide:

  • 10 questions to ask if you’re scrutinising services for looked after children (2011)
  • Back to school- Ways for scrutiny to influence local education and support school leaders to improve results (2013)
  • Your school, your community- Elected councillors’ role in school improvement (2015)
  • Local councillors and schools- Using community leadership to improve schools (2015)
  • Safeguarding Children- A practical guide for overview and scrutiny councillors (2015)

We see the primary audience for this document being:

  • Members of scrutiny committees, including Chairs and Vice-Chairs;
  • Scrutiny officers;
  • Those involved in children’s services
  • Council leaders and other Cabinet members. This is because political leadership is crucial to effective scrutiny. Commitments to supporting the scrutiny function and recognizing the political dynamic within which it operates must come from the top.
  • Those new to scrutiny, whether this is officers or members

Click the link below to access the full guide.