“Keep doing what you are doing” – that was the main message from OFSTED inspectors to Telford & Wrekin Council following a month-long inspection of the borough’s services for children and young people
Her Majesty’s Inspectors also reviewed the performance of Telford & Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board as part of the same inspection process – and found the board’s work to be good.
The report on the council’s Children’s Services noted that significant improvements have been made since the previous inspection four years ago, when the service was rated as adequate..
The key judgement was the children’s services in Telford and Wrekin require improvement to be good – but two out of the five areas rated are already good, including the adoption service and the experience and progress of care leavers.
The report made 11 recommendations, which compared favourably with the 34 recommendations following the last inspection in 2012.
The inspection recognised that Telford & Wrekin Council is self aware – their findings reflected what was highlighted in the council’s own Where We Are self assessment document.
The report also gives positive feedback about staff being committed; well motivated and saying they feel supported by management at all levels.
It highlights that the council’s leadership of children’s services has resulted in some important improvements in the quality of services and in the outcomes that children are achieving.
Children and young people are kept safe by the work of the council, which acts quickly and effectively to protect them when they are at immediate risk of significant harm.
The report also says that as a corporate parent, the council is improving health and education outcomes and increasing placement stability for looked after children and that work with children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation is very strong.
Care leavers receive good timely support from skilled and experienced social workers and personal advisers, which helps care leavers make successful transitions to adulthood.
Areas where the council’s children services can improve include swifter identification of and response to chronic risks.
The report also highlights that work around private fostering needs to be improved.
Councillor Paul Watling, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Communities, said: “This is a really positive report that mirrors what we already knew. We have made plenty of good progress since the last inspection and there are just a few key areas for us to focus on and improve.
“I would like to thank all our staff and partners who have made this outcome possible. I know that we will not rest on our laurels but will continue to strive to the vey best that we can.
“This positive report comes despite the council having to cut £80m from its budget well as facing an ever increasing workload.”
The report on the Telford & Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board found that the board is strong and rated its effectiveness as good. It also found that partner agencies work well together to keep children safe.
It highlights that the board has a strong independent chair who provides clear direction and effective challenge.
Andrew Mason, Telford & Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board (TWSCB) Independent Chair, said: “This has been a thorough inspection both of the services that the council provides and of the work that TWSCB does and I am delighted at the positive comments from OFSTED.
“The inspection team has been very thorough and has recognised many of the positive changes that we have already implemented. This all demonstrates that both the council and the Board are moving in the right direction and while there are areas we can improve on, we are already developing plans to do so.
“We couldn’t have been rated good without the excellent commitment and support from all the partners on the Board in making improvements that have made a real difference to the safety and welfare of children.
“I would also like to highlight the great work going in our schools to establish their own safeguarding boards, run by the children themselves. This innovative initiative is being rolled out across the borough and is helping children safeguard themselves and as such, has been recognised nationally as excellent practice.”