Telford & Wrekin Council is to continue its work to improve its Children & Family Services by implementing a £255,000 plan to address recommendations made by this summer’s Ofsted inspection.
The inspection report – which judged that the council “required improvement to be good” - told the authority to carry on with its current excellent work in order to achieve a “good” rating next time.
Ofsted made 11 recommendations but found that two of the five areas inspected already are good. None of the Ofsted recommendations related to child sexual exploitation.
The judgement put Telford & Wrekin Council’s children and family services as the second best of nine West Midlands local authorities.
However, the council has now devised a detailed improvement plan titled “Getting To Good”, which is aimed at continuing the good work already under way to further improve services and achieve a good rating.
This plan will be debated by the council’s cabinet when it meets on Thursday November 17 and then by full council a week later.
“Getting To Good” takes each of the 11 recommendations in turn and divides them into three themes as follows:
• Scrutiny, oversight and advocacy
• The quality and effectiveness of frontline practice
• Outcomes for children and young people in specific circumstances
The plan identifies what action is required for each recommendation, what the desired outcome is, how success is measured, which council officer will do the work and what the expected timescale for achieving all that is.
It also shows that progress has already been made with some of the Ofsted recommendations.
Details of what progress is being made are contained in the council’s regularly updated “Where We Are” self assessment document, which demonstrates the council’s strengths, areas for improvement and improvements made so far.
The Telford and Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board was inspected at the same time as the council’s Children and Family Services and was judged to be good.
Ofsted’s inspection report did not make any recommendation aimed at further improving the council’s work on child sexual exploitation. However, the council and the Telford and Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board already have an action plan in place to continue to improve this work.
Even though the Ofsted report described the council’s work on CSE as “very strong” and said that the council is “a champion” on this issue, the council has agreed funding for three additional posts in the dedicated CSE team to increase its capacity.
Councillor Paul Watling, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Communities, said: “We were pleased with our Ofsted inspection report because it showed that the general direction of travel was the right way. It also demonstrated that our own assessment of our progress was completely accurate.
“The previous inspection had resulted in 36 recommendations for improvement, the latest one made 11. I am delighted that in a comparatively short space of time we have gone from being rated nearly inadequate to rated nearly good.
“However, we are committed to doing whatever is necessary in order to be rated as a good authority for our children and family services and the investment that is required to implement this plan is absolutely the right thing for us to do.
“Ofsted recognised the improvements we have made in the quality of services that we deliver and in the outcomes that children are achieving. They also highlighted that a combination of strong leadership, effective political backing and the hands on support of the council’s managing director has helped progress.
“ ‘Getting To Good’ is a detailed, comprehensive and specific road map for us to achieve what Ofsted have set out for us to do. We have outlined what success would look like, who will lead on each piece of work and when we would expect that to be achieved.
“We will keep this continually under review over the forthcoming 18 months as the plan is implemented and we will keep both the council’s Cabinet and Full Council meetings updated on progress.”