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Ofsted letter highlights improvements to Northamptonshire’s children’s services

Author: Ian OPray Published: 11th September 2021 08:35

Councillor Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “These latest findings from Ofsted are really encouraging and reflect the ongoing efforts of all our colleagues at the children’s trust and councils who are working tirelessly to improve children’s services.Councillor Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “These latest findings from Ofsted are really encouraging and reflect the ongoing efforts of all our colleagues at the children’s trust and councils who are working tirelessly to improve children’s services.


 

Work on improving children’s services across Northamptonshire continues to gain traction and make tangible progress, according to Ofsted’s latest findings published today.

In its letter to North and West Northamptonshire Councils, Ofsted has highlighted the ‘relentless commitment’ by the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust (NCT) and the two new councils in making ongoing improvements to the services, which were judged inadequate in June 2019 under the previous county council.

Ofsted’s monitoring visit, which took place in July, is the second since the Children’s Trust was established last November and the first since the formation of the two new unitary councils this April.

In the letter, Ofsted said that inspectors found a new social work practice model is improving quality for children’s safeguarding and supporting disabled children and was already enabling positive experiences and progress for some youngsters.

It also highlighted that social workers were being timely in completing their assessments and overall caseloads had reduced, with measures being put in place to monitor workloads and manage an increasingly high volume of complex work coming into the service.

There were regular child protection and child in need reviews, with good attendance from multi agencies which shared information effectively between colleagues and with parents.

Ofsted also added there was a ‘determined focus’ on addressing challenges around retaining and recruiting social workers, with the Trust having had some success in reducing the temporary staff and recruiting permanent colleagues to improve workforce stability to aid the improvement journey.

Despite the progress Ofsted noted that improvements were still variable in areas of the service and more consistency of quality was required. More could also be done around ensuring children’s plans, contingency plans and safety plans were more focused and specific towards youngsters’ needs and kept updated as circumstances changed.

Cllr Scott Edwards, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for children, families, education and skills, said: “I’m delighted that children’s services continue to be on an upwards trajectory with improvements despite the very challenging conditions of the past 18 months.

“Improving life chances for every child is a key priority for us and we’re all absolutely committed to making sure that we continue on this journey. Progress has been made in some challenging areas and I’m confident that we have the right leaders and staff in place to continue to drive forward further positive change.”

Councillor Fiona Baker, Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “These latest findings from Ofsted are really encouraging and reflect the ongoing efforts of all our colleagues at the children’s trust and councils who are working tirelessly to improve children’s services.

 

“We know there is still much work to be done and this latest feedback from Ofsted is invaluable as we continue to work hard to make these services better for children across Northamptonshire."

Julian Wooster, Chair of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust said: “We are extremely pleased that Ofsted recognise the quality of our practice is improving and that we have continued to make encouraging progress despite the challenges we faced during the pandemic. 

“The Trust is making real progress at all levels and is committed to improving the lives of all children and young people in the county. We are determined to do as much as we can to deliver the best possible services and achieve the best outcomes possible for children, young people and families.” 

The letter is now available to view in full on the Ofsted website at:

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