The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s Children’s Services have been rated ‘GOOD’ following an inspection by Ofsted in January 2020.
Inspectors commented on the significant improvements that Achieving for Children (AfC), the council’s children's service provider, has made since the last inspection in 2015.
The two week inspection took place between 13 and 24 January 2020 during which inspectors visited many services across the directorate.
Under the new framework, services are assessed against four key areas: AfC was judged good for their overall effectiveness, good for impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families and good for the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection. A requires improvement to be good rating was given for the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers.
Some of the highlights of Ofsted’s report published on 24 February were:
Children in the Royal Borough have a strong voice.
The children in care council, Kickback, is proactive and well run.
There are strong interventions available where domestic abuse is a concern.
Social workers know their children well and talk knowledgeably about their experiences. Skilled and thoughtful direct work is conducted at the right pace for children; social workers use a variety of tools to help them understand children's experiences and views.
Early help services in the Royal Borough are a real strength. An impressive breadth of targeted interventions and services rapidly address the difficulties, needs and challenging circumstances of children and their families.
The large majority of children in care live in safe, secure and stables homes that meet their needs.
Children in care are attending school more regularly and are achieivng more than they were before.
There has been an increase in the number of care leavers engaged in good employment and education opportunities. They are well supported to attend university and college if they wish.
Leaders and managers are committed to improving outcomes for children by listening to what they, and their families have to say.
Cllr Stuart Carroll, lead member for Children’s Services said:
“This is a wonderful achievement and really shows how the council is meeting its core objective of supporting its most vulnerable residents. We have made huge strides in improving services for children and young people in the Royal Borough and this Ofsted rating is proof that our changes are having the results we want for our children and young people.
“A huge thank you to everyone, who has contributed to this success, particularly our hard-working staff, without your handwork and commitment, none of this would have been possible.
“For the Royal Borough today’s rating is just the start of the story, not the end. The hard work does not stop here. We need to continue to build on what we have achieved and continue to strive to improve what we do for our children and young people.”
The report highlights four main areas for improvement following the inspection, these are:
Relationships with community health colleagues to ensure increased attendance at strategy meetings, timely initial health assessments and provision of accurate health passports for care leavers.
Support for care leavers to ensure their voices are heard in both delivering the service and in their pathway plans, as well as guidance when they are not in education or training and practical advice and preparation for adulthood.
Quality and consistency of record-keeping.
The stability of the workforce to reduce the number of changes of social worker for children.
Kevin McDaniel, director of Children’s Services for Achieving for Children, said:
"I’m delighted that the changes we have made to Children’s Services in the Royal Borough have resulted in such a positive impact for children. The determination, hard work and ambition to improve - from our skilled and thoughtful practitioners right through to our senior leaders and partners - has led to this judgement of good.
"I am looking forward to continuing the rapid development of the services we offer to some of our most vulnerable residents as we work towards our ambition of achieving an outstanding rating in the future.”
See the full copy of the Ofsted report.