Shropshire Council’s children’s services rated ‘good’ by Ofsted
Children’s services provided by Shropshire Council have been rated as ‘good’ overall by Government inspectors Ofsted, following a four-week inspection in September and October this year.
The inspection looked at services for children in need of help and protection, looked-after children, and care leavers.
The ‘good’ rating is an improvement from the ‘adequate’ rating that was awarded following the last Ofsted inspection in November 2012.
Only 46 councils are currently rated as ‘good’ for their children’s services, and only three have achieved the top rating of ‘outstanding’. This means that Shropshire Council’s children’s services are now in the top 30% nationally.
The inspectors’ report gives particular praise to the council’s work to keep children safe, its fostering and adoption services and its work to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Video: Shropshire Council celebrates ‘good’ rating for children’s services
In their report inspectors say that:
- ‘Since the last inspection, the senior leadership team has systematically developed and improved services for children.’
- ‘Children and their families benefit from an extensive range of well-coordinated, multi-agency help and support, including early help services.’
- ‘Adoption is a strength. Children who need adoption are matched well and placed very quickly with adopters. Prospective adopters are assessed and trained to a high standard. The quality of post-adoption support is exceptional.’
- ‘A particular focus on early help services for children who need help and protection or are at risk of child sexual exploitation, neglect and/or domestic abuse has led to strong operational practice in these areas, supported by a keen culture of learning and improvement.’
- ‘Senior leaders, managers, staff and partner agencies work well together to ensure that services over time are continuously improved.’
- ‘Children at risk of immediate harm receive a good response. Partner agencies respond robustly to concerns where children are exposed to domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and parental mental health. Children in need and child protection services support families well.’
- ‘Social workers know the children that they are working with well.’
- ‘Arrangements for identifying and responding to children at risk of sexual exploitation or going missing from home, school or care are good.’
- ‘Innovative and effective edge-of-care services help to make sure that children become looked after only when this is needed.’
- ‘Most children live with suitably experienced foster carers who support them well and provide stability and access to a wide range of activities.’
- ‘There is a strong focus on achieving positive outcomes for children.’
The report does identify a number of areas for improvement but also acknowledges that many of these areas are already being addressed and that action plans have been put in place.
Nick Bardsley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services and education, said
“This is an enormous achievement. I’m delighted and proud of what our staff do every day to protect children, often in extremely difficult circumstances. I’d like to say a very big thank you to them.
“We can’t afford to be complacent. There are areas where things could be better. We want to be outstanding and, at the next inspection, I have every confidence that we will be.
“In the meantime I think our staff and the council can be very proud of what has been achieved and celebrate a great success.”
Karen Bradshaw, director of children’s services, said:
“This report is fantastic news and is recognition of the hard work and dedication of all the staff working in children’s services across Shropshire Council. I want to thank them all.
“All of our staff care deeply about the children in our care and have been working hard for a number of years to improve our services. It’s brilliant that Ofsted has publically acknowledged this work.
“Our priority is to ensure that our children are safe, and that we provide the highest quality of support and care. The report acknowledges this.
“We are also pleased that our work with other agencies was recognised as positive, and contributes to the good outcomes for children.”
Meanwhile, Ofsted has also carried out a review of the effectiveness of the Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board (SSCB) – a multi-agency body that works to keep Shropshire’s children’s safe. Inspectors have rated the SSCB as ‘good’ in a report also published today (24 November 2017).
Ivan Powell, independent Chairman of the SSCB, said:
“This has been a thorough inspection of both the services that the council provides and of the work of Shropshire Safeguarding Children’s Board.
“Being judged as good is testament to the high standards of professionalism and commitment from all of the partner agencies on the Board.
“Whilst we are rightly taking pride in Ofsted’s judgement we are also not complacent about the ongoing challenges we face, including changes we will be making as a consequence of the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
“I am confident that we are starting from a position of strength and that the board will continue to make real differences to the welfare and safety of children across Shropshire.”
To read the Ofsted reports, click here to visit the Ofsted website.
1. There are four Ofsted grading categories:
Grade 1: Outstanding
Grade 2: Good
Grade 3: Requires Improvement
Grade 4: Inadequate
2. About the inspection
The inspection was carried out between 11 September and 5 October 2017. The inspection team consisted of seven of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) from Ofsted.
Inspectors looked closely at the experiences of children and young people who have needed or still need help and/or protection. This includes children and young people who are looked after and young people who are leaving care and starting their lives as young adults.
Inspectors considered the quality of work and the difference adults make to the lives of children, young people and families. They read case files, watched how professional staff work with families and each other and discussed the effectiveness of help and care given to children and young people. Wherever possible, they talked to children, young people and their families. In addition the inspectors have tried to understand what the local authority knows about how well it is performing, how well it is doing and what difference it is making for the people who it is trying to help, protect and look after.
3. Other related Ofsted ratings in Shropshire
The Joint Adoption Service for Shropshire and Telford is hosted by Shropshire Council and was graded as ‘good’ as part of Telford’s Ofsted inspection in 2016.
Shropshire Council’s two residential children’s homes are rated as ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ respectively.