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West Berkshire Council children's services rated 'good' by Ofsted

Inspection marks huge improvement after 'inadequate' rating in 2015

Dan Cooper

Reporter:

Dan Cooper

Contact:

01635 886632

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

WEST Berkshire Council’s children's services has been rated as good by Ofsted, just two years after it was judged to have been inadequate.

The latest judgement recognises the considerable improvements made in the service, but still notes areas for improvement.

The recent report recognised that children looked after by the council enjoy stable, warm and helpful relationships with their social workers and foster carers.

It added that 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.

Inspectors also found that when children are referred to social care, risks and needs are quickly considered and good decisions are made about what families need.

However, inspectors noted that more still needs to be done with the safeguarding of children.

The report says: "Leaders must give more attention to children who go missing from home or care, or who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation."

West Berkshire Council is the first solo authority to make the jump from inadequate straight to good.

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 says it 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.

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