Suffolk County Council’s Children’s Services continue to improve following Ofsted pilot inspection
The council’s Children’s Services are now rated good in all areas.
Ofsted have developed a new framework for their future inspections of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS). Earlier this year, Suffolk County Council was asked to be a pilot site for this new inspection framework.
Suffolk County Council’s Children’s Services were previously judged good overall at the end of 2015, a grade that only a third of Local Authorities have achieved.
Whilst this was positive, the council recognised that there were still areas for improvement and Ofsted’s latest report reflects the action taken to improve in all areas. All areas are now judged to be good. This puts Suffolk County Council in the top 25% of all Local Authorities.
Inspectors were positive about every part of Children’s Services, the quality of work with children, and the passion and commitment of everyone they met.
Their report highlights that:
“The local authority's commitment to children and families is clear and unambiguous… Staff know children well and are passionate about changing their lives.”
Key points made by Ofsted in the report recognise the work of the authority in the following areas:
- Early Help: Early help is making a positive difference to the lives of children and families Children and families benefit from a good range of early help services.
- Social Care & Safeguarding: The children and adult Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is well established. It is appropriately resourced and well managed. Thresholds are applied consistently. Information is shared appropriately. Decision-making is timely. The way in which the local authority has rolled out its preferred social work model across all children and young people’s services is extremely impressive. The model is encouraging social workers and other staff to work more effectively with families.
- Children in Care: The local authority makes good use of its legal powers and acts decisively to protect children who are unable to continue to live at home safely. Social workers clearly understand the importance of achieving permanence for children in care. The emphasis is always on finding the right long-term solution for each child.
- Strong Leadership: Senior managers lead by example. They want the best for children, young people and families. They set and expect high standards of themselves and others. They understand the importance of getting the basics right but are not afraid to innovate.
- Partnership working: Partnership working, particularly with the police and with health services, is strong. This is evident in the way in which the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has developed. It is also apparent in the role played by health partners in early help. Working closely with other agencies, the local authority has strengthened its response to missing children and child sexual exploitation.
Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said:
“It’s fantastic that our Children’s Services are now rated good in all areas. This achievement reflects the hard work and determination of our dedicated staff, making a significant difference to the lives of children and young people and puts Suffolk County Council’s Children’s Services in the top 25% of all Local Authorities.
“We are committed to delivering the best service for children and families. We have made considerable progress since the last inspection and we are determined to improve this rating even further going forward.”
View the full Ofsted Pilot Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) report (PDF, 196KB).