Bath and North East Somerset Council's children social care services ranked in nation's top 20
Posted on 10/07/2017 by
Ofsted's rating has put the local authority among the top performing social care service providers
Bath and North East Somerset Council leader Tim Warren
The local authority's Children’s Social Care Services have been rated as ‘Good’ in their Ofsted inspection, with ‘Outstanding’ features – putting them in the top 20 nationally.
Local adoption services have also been judged ‘Outstanding’, which is the first time a south-west based council has been awarded the grade in any category under the current inspection framework.
The final report from the team of inspectors, who visited in April and May, gives Bath and North East Somerset Council an overall rating of ‘Good’.
The review of the multi-agency arrangements to protect children through the Local Safeguarding Children Board, carried out alongside the inspection of Council services, also received a ‘Good’ rating.
About the inspection
- Bath and North East Somerset had 1008 children identified as being ‘In Need of a specialist children’s service’ at the time of the inspection.
- 160 children and young people were subject to a child protection plan (up from 147 at 31 March 2016) and 167 children were being looked after by the local authority (up from 145 at 31 March 2016).
- 1 child was identified as being in a private fostering arrangement and 12 children were successfully placed with adoptive parents in the last 12 months.
- In the previous Ofsted inspection of arrangements for the protection of children (March 2013) B&NES was judged to be adequate.
- Ofsted uses four grades for these inspections – Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate.
- Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are the only other areas in the South West to have achieved an overall rating of ‘Good’ under the current inspection framework. Results have now been published for all but 2 South West Councils
- The inspection was undertaken over a four week period between 24 April and 18 May 2017 and involved 7 main inspectors, with 3 others observing.
As with all inspections, Ofsted have highlighted recommendations for making the service even better and indicated that services for care leavers and for children who need help and protection still ‘require improvement to be good’.
Welcoming the judgment, council leader Tim Warren (Cons, Mendip) said: "This is a major achievement under the current Ofsted inspection framework, which is challenging for Local Authorities, but reflects the high standards that we would all aspire to for children and young people who need our help and support.
“It is great to see the praise for young people who have engaged through the ‘In Care Councils’ to make a real difference and actively influence services. The ‘Outstanding’ grading for Adoption services, recognises ‘an exemplary understanding of children’s needs to ensure they are expertly prepared to live securely with well-assessed and carefully matched adopters.’ We welcome the feedback from inspectors on what we can do to improve further in some of our work and we are already working to tackle these areas.”
The report highlights numerous strengths of the service, praising the timely and proportionate response to raised concerns alongside outstanding integrated commissioning arrangements and strong partnerships with other agencies, such as health services and the police. Staff consistently reported to inspectors how much they enjoy working here.
Councillor Michael Evans (Cons, Midsomer Norton North) the cabinet member for children at the time of the inspection said: "The inspectors have recognised that children benefit from good-quality services provided by the Council which help them to remain with their families where possible.
"The inspectors also praised the ‘sensitive and thoughtful direct work by skilled social workers’ as well as the tenacious creative and energetic response of Family Support Practitioners. They quote adopters as consistently describing ‘exceptional fantastic support by social workers and others’. The comments are a brilliant and well-deserved accolade for our hard-working and dedicated front line staff.”
Councillor Paul May (Cons, Publow and Whitchurch ) the new cabinet member for children and young people, said: "I am due to take on this responsible role at a time we have heard Ofsted say the authority is good, which in comparison with other areas is an excellent starting point for me as the incoming Cabinet member. This is a positive for hard working and caring staff which must be valued by them. We will all work together to maintain and improve standards wherever we can"
Reg Pengelly, the Independent Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board added: “I am delighted with Ofsted’s ‘Good’ rating from their review of the effectiveness of the LSCB. This reflects some fantastic work between local partners, including the Board’s three active lay members, and the strong work we do to actively seek the views of children through the Senior In Care Council and Youth Forum.
“I am particularly pleased to see an acknowledgment that we have created a ‘culture of openness, purposeful challenge and a well-driven and sustained focus on safeguarding performance’ ensuring that ‘outcomes for children continue to improve’. Whilst this report suggests that B&NES is a relatively safe place for children and families to live, with statutory agencies working well together, safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and we want the public and other professionals to report concerns whenever they think a child or vulnerable person needs some help.
"I will ensure the Board picks up the inspectors’ three recommendations, to broaden the range of performance information we review; to add some additional areas of focus into our annual report; and to extend to a wider audience the ongoing work to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.”