'Good' rating for Shropshire Council's children's services

Reporter:

Harry Wright

Shropshire Council's director of Children's Services has dedicated the authority's 'good' Ofsted rating to her staff.

The services received the rating after a four-week Ofsted inspection in September - a significant improvement from the previous ‘adequate’ rating awarded to the council in 2012.

Shropshire was also given room for improvement in the experiences and progress of care leavers, but Karen Bradshaw says they are already on the road to becoming an 'outstanding' service.

“This is fantastic news and is recognition of the hard work and dedication of all the staff working in children’s services across Shropshire Council,” she said.

“I want to thank them all.”

She added: “We are aware of areas for improvement, but the report states we know ourselves well. We are now on the journey of improvement to outstanding.”

Shropshire's rating means they are one of only 46 across England and Wales to be rated good – the top 30 per cent nationally - with only three councils rated as ‘outstanding’.

Areas that the Ofsted inspectors looked at included services for children in need and protection, looked-after children and those that have left care.

The inspectors’ report particularly praised the work of the council to keep children safe, its fostering and adoption services and its good work to tackle sexual exploitation.

It said: “Since the last inspection, the senior leadership team has systematically developed and improved services for children.”

Acclaim was put on the council’s work with other agencies, with the inspectors saying: “Children and their families benefit from an extensive range of well-coordinated, multi-agency help and support, including early help services.”

“Adoption is a strength”, added the inspectors, going on to say: “Children who need adoption are matched well and placed very quickly with adopters.”

“Prospective adopters are assessed and trained to a very high standard. The quality of post-adoption support is exceptional.”

“There is a strong focus on achieving positive outcomes for children” was the key message from the inspectors' report."

Nick Bardsley, Shropshire Council portfolio holder for Children and Young People, said he was overjoyed with the result.

“This is an enormous achievement,” he said.

“I’m delighted and proud of what our staff do every day to protect children, often in extremely difficult circumstances. I’d like to say a big thank you to them.

“Shropshire is very lucky to have Karen and a very good team underneath her.”

Mr Bardsley also acknowledged the constant desire for improvement in the service, and the difficulty of the task under current budget restrictions.

“There are areas where things could be better,” he added. “We want to be outstanding and at the next inspection I have every confidence we will be.

“We are under considerable pressure to do more with less, we have to find budget savings – we’ve tried to mitigate high cost demands.”

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