Image demonstrating Good across the board for children’s social care in Northumberland

Good across the board for children’s social care in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has been awarded an overall ‘good’ rating across the board by Ofsted following a two week inspection of its children’s social care services.

This represents a significant turnaround by the council and a huge improvement in performance since the last inspection in 2016, when the service was deemed as requiring improvement. 

The council was commended for adopting a child-focused approach that improves the lives of children who need its services, and that its children are well protected.

Inspectors reported that assessments of children’s needs are good, and that they include their views and feelings, and that social workers in Northumberland know the children they work with well.

The four good judgements were for: the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families; the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection; the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers; and the overall effectiveness of the services.

The report says that ‘elected members and senior leaders have ensured that children receive a robust and consistent response that meets their needs when concerns are raised’, and ‘children are well protected and engaged in effective direct work with social workers’.

Councillor Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services at the council said: “Keeping children and young people in our county safe and making sure that they have strong foundations, in often the most challenging circumstances, is a top priority for the council.

“It was fantastic that the Ofsted inspectors recognised this, and their report highlighted some of the tremendous work that is going on throughout our children’s social care services by all staff.

“The inspectors saw first hand that improvements have been made through focussed leadership, strategic planning and a determined focus on ensuring that children are helped, protected and cared for to a good standard.

“The outcome of the previous inspection in 2016 meant we had a massive hill to climb to move out of requires improvement. However due to the commitment and determination of staff and leaders we have absolutely done just that, and now achieved good across the board!

“I am delighted that I have been able to deliver strong political support for children's services and this was clearly seen by the inspectors. They recognised that this, along with significant investment by the council has resulted in an increase in social work capacity.

“The excellent support from senior management and leaders across the whole council, along with excellent partnership working with key agencies have all contributed to children in Northumberland being very well protected.”

Cath McEvoy-Carr, executive director of adult social care and children's services at the council said: “This inspection demonstrates the continued high standards delivered by our hard-working and committed children’s social care teams.

"I’m incredibly proud of all our staff for doing the job they love and being acknowledged for it - there’s no better accolade. I would like to say a huge thank you to all of them, and particularly to the frontline staff who work in very challenging situations to make a difference to the lives of children and families on a daily basis.

“This fantastic achievement is due to the talented and dedicated staff in children’s services, with support from colleagues across the council, our foster carers, our adopters, our partner agencies, the community sector, councillors, and all our corporate parents who work so hard to ensure our children and young people and their families are safe, happy, secure, and achieve their full potential.

“Children really are at the heart of everything we do, and the report highlights how we have made a substantial commitment to make sure children receive the right help at the right time. We have also made a strong corporate response to investing in the workforce which has had an impact on delivering our services.

“Our aim is to continue our journey of improvement in the services we provide, so that we are the very best that we can be.”

There are a small number of areas where inspectors highlighted that improvements could be made, and these were primarily in the quality of some written plans and documents. 

Cath McEvoy-Carr continued: “Inspectors acknowledged that evidence shows that in Northumberland senior leaders have responded without delay to the recommendations and areas for improvement identified in previous inspections, and our response to the points raised in this report will be no different. We are already tightening up on protocols in these areas, and will make sure that improvements are made without delay.”

The full report from Ofsted is available here.
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