Southend rated ‘Outstanding’ for keeping children safe
Published Friday 27th July 12 in Council - news and information releases news
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s safeguarding arrangements and services for looked after children have been given a glowing seal of approval by Ofsted.
The authority is one of only FOUR in the country to have been judged 'Outstanding' when it comes to ensuring children and young people are safe and feel safe.
Ofsted's five-man inspection team rated the Council's safeguarding and looked after children services in 20 different areas and found it met the required standards in EVERY one.
It was judged 'Good' in its overall effectiveness for both safeguarding and looked after children, with five 'Outstanding' areas, 12 'Good' areas and three 'Adequate' areas..
Inspectors praised the strength of the partnership working in Southend, which was judged as 'Outstanding', saying: "Partnership arrangements are a significant strength and central to the effectiveness of achieving improvements in safeguarding services.
They also judged 'capacity to improve' and 'ambition and prioritisation' for safeguarding as 'Outstanding'.
In their report they found that the Council:
- had identified and secured sustained improvements in safeguarding and child protection services
- was passionate about improving outcomes and had a shared and well understood vision
- had developed partnership arrangements which were a significant strength and central to the effectiveness of achieving improvements in safeguarding services
- demonstrated good financial management and had reduced its budget while maintaining frontline services
- had a strong and sustained record of improvement which had led to a reduction in the number of children on child protection plans
- had very clear priorities to meet the need of children in Southend-on-Sea
- gave safeguarding children the highest priority and
- used financial resources effectively to target the most vulnerable children
The Ofsted report stated that in all the individual cases examined by the inspectors, children were robustly safeguarded and none were found to be at risk of harm.
Among the other positive aspects of the Council's work they highlighted were:
- children and young people were given the opportunity to express their wishes and feelings on their individual circumstances and reported that they felt safe
- early intervention work was robustly supported through the use of the Common Assessment Framework which used extremely effectively by staff in a wide range of agencies to ensure that children's identified needs were met
- children were routinely seen by social workers and where necessary seen alone - good attempts were made to ascertain their views, wishes and feelings
- all cases were appropriately allocated to suitably experienced social workers
- children with disabilities and life-limiting conditions benefitted from the co-location of health staff with the social care disability team
- sexual health services had targeted the teenage pregnancy 'hotspot' areas with some effect leading to an overall reduction in teenage conceptions
- outcomes for economic well-being were outstanding, with care leavers accessing a wide range of interventions to support them in achieving well via further education, employment or training
- looked after children made good progress from their starting points due to the high priority given to their achievement by all schools in the borough
- multi-agency actions to prevent offending and re-offending were well embedded and had led to significant reductions in anti-social behaviour and all care leavers had outstanding opportunities to achieve their best and move successfully into adult life
James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, said: "I am delighted that the Ofsted inspection team gave our safeguarding and looked after children services such a ringing endorsement.
"The Council and its partners have made significant progress over the past few years towards ensuring that Southend is one of the safest areas of the country to live for children and young people.
"A lot of hard work has gone into streamlining our safeguarding processes to make them as robust and effective as possible.
"The report has highlighted some areas where we still need to improve and we won't be resting on our laurels.
"But it is overwhelmingly positive about the arrangements the Council has in place for vulnerable and looked after children."