OFTSED GOOD IS BRILLIANT NEWS!

Suffolk County Council’s Children’s Services has been rated GOOD by Ofsted – which is brilliant news and means the team at SCC, led by Sue Cook, and working with our most vulnerable children are truly among the best in the country.

The Ofsted report, which was published on Thursday praises the work of the council in protecting and looking after children and young people, with some areas of outstanding practice highlighted in the report. The rigorous nearly month-long inspection was carried out between 23 November – 17 December 2015.

Suffolk now sits in the top 22% of local authorities in the country. So far, 78 councils have been inspected under Ofsted’s new framework. No authority has been judged outstanding and of the last 17 inspections across the country, just one authority had been judged GOOD, until Suffolk’s rating.

Ofsted’s report highlights  that “Leaders have a comprehensive understanding of what needs to be achieved and have made sustained progress since the inspection of services for looked after children in 2010 and child protection in 2013, which both were judged to be adequate”. It says “Suffolk County Council is led by dynamic and capable leaders and managers and is delivering a good service overall to children and their families.”

My colleague, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Children’s Services, Cllr Gordon Jones is rightly chuffed to bits – “I am absolutely delighted that we have received a GOOD rating from Ofsted. This achievement is testament to the work and commitment of all our staff at the authority and the support they receive from local community partners who share our drive and focus to protect vulnerable children and young people in Suffolk, and support families. The inspection team’s feedback demonstrates that we are listening to the children and families we work for and their views and experiences are positively shaping the way we do things.

“This is confirmation that we are on the right path and in the areas where we have recommendations for improvement, Ofsted acknowledges that we already have plans in place to deliver success in the future. We are not at all complacent in light of this rating, the team will want to demonstrate further success the next time we welcome Ofsted to Suffolk.”

Key points made by Ofsted in the report recognise the work of the authority in the following areas:

  • Strong leadership, an ambitious and well-articulated vision and robust governance arrangements are leading to improved outcomes for children, young people and families. The lead Councillor and the Chief Executive and senior team demonstrate commitment to corporate parenting and show an ambitious drive to transform services for children and families

  •  Early help services for children and their families are good and there are early signs of increased impact through the integrated teams. Children receive timely, suitable and comprehensive early help with appropriate assessment of needs

  • Substantial improvement in services for looked after children has been achieved since the inspection in 2010, delivering significant advances in assessing and addressing health needs and producing good outcomes that focus on safety, stability and permanence; workers try to ensure that children and young people remain in their families wherever possible; these teams are successful and demonstrate positive impact.

  • Assessing new and emerging risk for children in care is a high priority. Children who are at risk of child sexual exploitation are being appropriately identified and strong cooperative working relationships with the police have been developed.

  • Social workers act quickly to ensure that children are safe. They know children well, understand their needs, visit them often and listen to what they tell them to establish trusting relationships

  •  The adoption service in Suffolk is well run, well managed and appropriately resourced. It is offering an exceptional service through foster to adopt and concurrent placements

  • Parents say they receive the right sort of help when they need it, they value the support and that it has helped them.

As part of the same inspection period, Suffolk’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board also received a GOOD rating. The Board is independent of the council and is set up to ensure that partner organisations have good safeguarding arrangements and work together. It also ensures that members of the local community have increased understanding of the work that is being carried out to help keep children safe in Suffolk

Ofsted also recognises that the authority underpins its services through the adoption of the Signs of Safety framework; an internationally recognised approach to organising and managing casework. Suffolk County Council is one of only a handful of local authorities to fully embed this system into its service and it is clearly bringing positive results.

The full Ofsted report can be viewed on their website at: www.ofsted.gov.uk