Cheshire East pledges to continue improving children's services following "disappointing" Ofsted report

By Deborah Bowyer

16th May 2024 | Local News

Lead member for children and families at Cheshire East says she is "disappointed" with the latest Ofsted. (Photo: Nub News)
Lead member for children and families at Cheshire East says she is "disappointed" with the latest Ofsted. (Photo: Nub News)

The latest Ofsted report into Cheshire East's children's services published today (Thursday)has graded three areas "requiring improvement" and two "inadequate". 

It says the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection and the experiences and progress of children in care, all require improvement to be good. 

And it says the experiences and progress of care leavers and overall effectiveness are "inadequate". 

The report, which can be read here says: "Since the last inspection of Cheshire East in 2019, when services for children were judged to be requires improvement to be good, improvements have been made in some areas of practice. 

"However, the quality of practice and the experience and progress of children and young people are too variable, and for care leavers they are inadequate." 

It goes on to say: "Nevertheless, there is much more to do to improve the quality of practice to ensure a consistent response to the most vulnerable children and care leavers in Cheshire East. 

"There have not been sufficient improvements made in relation to services for those children who are subject to child in need and child protection plans. 

"Furthermore, management oversight and challenge are not fully embedded across all service areas. Senior leaders had not recognised, until this inspection, the extent of improvement required in services for care leavers." 

Cheshire East Council has hit back at the report based on an inspection which took place from 26th February to 8th March 2024, saying it commits to continuing to improve children's services following the inspection. 

They say the report recognised many strengths across the council, including: 

● There is strong political and corporate commitment to children in Cheshire East and a strategic focus on improvement; 

● Significant progress has been made in improving arrangements for those who go missing or at risk of exploitation; 

● Senior leaders express a tangible ambition to do the right thing to help, protect and care for the most vulnerable children in Cheshire East; 

● Staff knew children and young people well and spoke about them with warmth; 

● The development and opening of family hubs have strengthened the early help offer, reducing harm for children and young people; 

● Children and young people are supported to remain with their families when it is safe for them to do so; and 

● Staff said they enjoyed working for Cheshire East and felt well supported by managers. 

Councillor Carol Bulman, lead member for children and families at Cheshire East Council said: "We are, of course, deeply disappointed with the outcome of this latest inspection and are sorry that some aspects of our support for young people does not meet the expected standard. 

"However, we accept the findings and are committed to addressing all the inspectors' recommendations. I'd like to thank all the staff who support children, young people and their families, day in day out, with dedication, commitment and care. 

"I am proud of how they have responded to the judgement and have committed to delivering the improvements set out in the report. 

"Work is already under way to improve the experiences of our children and young people, learning from this inspection and building on the progress we have made over the last few years. I know this inspection will be a positive catalyst for change and we need to use it as an opportunity to reflect, learn and keep moving forwards.   

"Our focus continues to be on achieving excellent outcomes for children and young people through establishing consistently good practice." 

     

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