Ofsted’s report findings support Herefordshire Council’s priority to keep children and young people safe

Herefordshire Council’s services for children in need of help and protection have maintained their current overall rating, according to the findings of the latest Ofsted inspection published today.

Ofsted, the national body that inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people, conducted a routine inspection in June as part of a new, more challenging inspection framework to check whether Herefordshire Council’s services do protect and support children and young people and their families and improve the quality of their lives and futures.

The findings of the latest report confirms that the council has continued to maintain its current rating of requires improvement.

The Ofsted report highlighted a number of significant strengths in the service, including:

  • No children seen were found to be at risk of immediate harm
  • Children who need immediate help or protection receive appropriate interventions
  • Early help family support services received by families are responsive and an intense package of support is provided.
  • Children in care live in good placements, where their outcomes improve, including their education and health

There was also praise for a range of areas and the improvements made since the last inspection, including for children with disabilities, the council’s fostering and adoption work, the work with care leavers, the work that takes place to safeguard children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation, or those that go missing, and the work with unaccompanied asylum seekers.

Councillor Elissa Swinglehurst, cabinet member for young people and children’s wellbeing said:

“It’s important to note that Ofsted have recognised that no cases of children they saw in Herefordshire were at risk of immediate harm.  This achievement is down to the commitment of all those involved in the lives of children and young people, including early years settings, schools and colleges, voluntary services, health services and the council’s children’s wellbeing service.

“Ofsted also recognised that the council has made a recent significant financial investment to support the development and improvement of children’s social care services.

“Our highest priority at Herefordshire Council is to protect children and give them the best start in life.  We still have a way to go to meet our goal of being rated as a good service, however I am confident that we are taking the necessary steps to achieve this in the future.”

Chris Baird, director for children’s wellbeing added:

“We welcome the feedback from the recent inspection.  We are pleased that Ofsted found that we know ourselves well, that we had recognised areas of strength and been clear with the inspection team on the weaknesses that they would find.

“We accept that there are areas where we still need to improve, however the overall judgement from this latest inspection remains a positive position to where we were back in 2012, when the council received a rating of inadequate.

“We have passionate and committed staff, managers, members, partners, foster carers and the children and young people themselves and that’s a great strength for Herefordshire to build on.

“We have a new leadership team determined to build on the strengths that benefit children and young people in Herefordshire, and put right the areas of weakness that have been identified in the report.

“We are fully committed to working towards an Ofsted rating of good, but this will take time.  We have taken immediate action by allocating more resource to underpin our improvement work, including additional support for social workers to relieve their caseloads and will be putting in place measures to aid the retention of staff and recruitment.  We are also taking a clearer and more consistent approach to management, as well as expanding the staffing to provide social workers with managerial support. 

“Keeping children safe remains a highest priority and we will continue to improve our service to ensure that Herefordshire’s children and young people feel supported.”

A summary of the Ofsted inspection report is available to view here.

Published: Monday, 23rd July 2018