“Good” for children’s services in Somerset

Today Ofsted published the latest report on Somerset’s children’s services. The last full inspection in 2017 was rated “Requires Improvement”. Even that was an improvement on the 2015 report which rated the County’s children’s services as “Inadequate”. It has been a long journey but the latest report from Ofsted show that there has at last been a recovery in performance. In giving the council a “Good” rating, the inspectors note: “The council is committed to driving up standards for Somerset’s children and is rightly proud of the significant progress it has made since the last
inspection in 2017.

Cllr Revans, leader of Somerset County Council, commented at the opening of SCC Executive: “We should be proud to have such a committed team. I’m sure everyone here would like to join in the congratulations and say thank you for all the hard work of our staff in children’s services and I’d like to congratulate Julian Wooster and his team. And of course Tessa Munt as lead member, but also to thank Frances Nicholson as the former cabinet member for that role and Cllr Leigh Redman for his role as Chair of Children Scrutiny Committee for all the work they’ve done to help drive up standards over the previous years.”

Cllr Leigh Redman, chair of children and families scrutiny in Somerset added: “I am delighted with the OFSTED rating, I am pleased that the hard work of our staff has been recognised in Cllr Revan’s comments, I have been on the journey with Somerset children services, as chair of scrutiny committee, I want to thank my committee members (passed & present) for their hard work, but more importantly I hope that we can continue the drive, our young people need us to maintain and build the support we offer them, next stop has to be ‘outstanding’.”

There was also praise for the way the director of the service and his staff had managed through the pandemic. There were two areas identified for further improvement which were:

◼ Placement sufficiency, including for emergency admissions, for older children with complex needs.
◼ The take-up of return home interviews and use of data to inform individual and service planning.

However given the improvement in the service across the board, there must be increased confidence that this will now be addressed. The report is full of praise for a service that has been battered and taken its fair share of criticism. It goes with the territory that we often find ourselves reporting on failure. It is a pleasure that for once today we find ourselves reporting on success.

You can read the full report published this morning here: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50192873

Meanwhile the quotes below from the inspection report paint a picture of the improvement in the service.

Somerset County Council is an active and caring corporate parent with a well-structured corporate parenting board that is committed and effective.”

“The director and his senior leadership team have a clear line of sight of the impact of services and the extent to which they are meeting the needs of children in Somerset.”

There is a workforce culture of openness, support and respectful challenge in Somerset which helps workers to feel confident in their practice. Most workers enjoy working in Somerset.”

“The quality of early help services provided to children by the Family Intervention Service (FIS) is strong.”

“When children need immediate help outside office hours, the emergency duty team responds effectively.”

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