West Berkshire Council

'Good' rating for Council's Children and Family Service

OFSTED inspection finds Children and Family Service to be 'Good'.

2017 - Children and Family Services Ofsted Report

West Berkshire Council's Children and Family Service has been judged to be good following the latest inspection by OFSTED.

The Children and Family Service supports vulnerable children and their families across the district as well as dealing with concerns about the welfare of children. The latest judgement recognises the considerable improvements made in the service since it was judged inadequate two years ago.

Among the achievements highlighted in the report are:

  • Children looked after by the council enjoy stable, warm and helpful relationships with their social workers and foster carers
  • The feelings and daily lives of children and their carers are central to the analysis of what children need
  • Children in need of adoption are found the right families in good time and support for families is helpful and highly valued by adoptive parents
  • When children are referred to social care, risks and needs are quickly considered and good decisions are made about what families need
  • Success in building a more stable workforce, better quality-assurance checks and an ambition to innovate and learn from others have hastened the pace of change

West Berkshire Council is the first solo authority to make the jump from inadequate straight to good. It shows the determination by leaders and staff to improve and that OFSTED has confidence in us.

Welcoming the report Councillor Lynne Doherty, Executive Member for Children and Young People said: "I'm delighted that our hard work over the past two years has been recognised with the service now judged to be good. It is a clear demonstration of our commitment to support our young people and do all we can to keep them safe. It's a fantastic achievement and one which I hope will give our communities confidence in the service.

"I am particularly pleased that the report has acknowledged the work done to put the needs of our children at the heart of the service and ensure their voices are heard more loudly than before. There is still more we want to do to meet our council priority of being good at safeguarding. The report today gives us the platform to push on and continue striving for excellence."

Rachael Wardell, West Berkshire Council's Director of Children's Services, added: "We were quick to speed up our changes following the last inspection and eager for OFSTED to return and see the progress we've made. We've worked hard to reduce the turnover of staff to give more continuity to the children and families we work with, to be more effective at checking we're meeting the standards we expect from ourselves and to look outward and learn from other authorities. I'm thrilled for our staff and delighted for our children and our families to say that our children's service is now good."

West Berkshire Council will continue its focus on areas for further improvement highlighted in the report. This includes ensuring health professionals are involved in decision making, capturing information about children's diverse backgrounds and the analysis of risk where children are at risk of sexual exploitation. Following an inspection the Council must submit an action plan to OFSTED and staff from the Children and Family Service have already started work on that plan.

West Berkshire Council has been supported on its improvement journey by partners at agencies across the region. Earlier this week staff from the Children and Family Service met with partners to present them with a thank you card in recognition of their contribution. Speaking about the support from partners Rachael said: "We couldn't possibly have made such progress without the support and involvement of our partners. Police, health and education colleagues and many others have all worked tirelessly with us to put children and families first."

Rachael Wardell has been blogging about the children's service and the work being taken to bring about these improvements. You can read the blog at Children and Family Services Improvement Blog

You can read the full OFSTED report here: OFSTED Reports - West Berkshire Council