Cornwall Council Children’s Social Care Services rated Good by Ofsted

Today I can officially confirm that Cornwall Council’s children’s social care services have been rated as ‘Good’ in the most recent Ofsted inspection. This puts this service in the top 25% of children’s services in the country that have been inspected under this tougher new inspection framework.  Only 12 local authorities have improved to ‘Good’ under this inspection regime and Cornwall is the only authority rated as ‘Inadequate’ between 2010 to 2011 that has now improved to ‘Good’.

The final report from the team of 12 inspectors published today (27 June) gives the Council an overall rating of “Good“, with four of the key areas of the inspection also being rated as ‘Good’ – Children in Care and Permanence; Adoption; Care Leavers; and Leadership, Management and Governance.

Gathered for the announcement this morning

Gathered for the announcement this morning

The report highlights numerous strengths of the service, including the skills and enthusiasm of social work staff; the “consistently good service” given to children in care and care leavers and the support provided to foster carers; the work of the adoption service; strong partnership working, and the quality of practice in early help services.

The report gives special mention is given to some of Cornwall’s most innovative services, including the Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) and Early Help Hub developed jointly with health partners, as well as multi-agency teams like Teylu (Cornish for Family) which is the specialist pre-birth and parent & child assessment team, and Gweres Tus Yownyk (Cornish for Helping Young People) which is the specialist adolescent service supporting young people on the edge of care.

The report notes the significant increase in the number of children receiving Early Help in Cornwall from 200 in 2011-2012 to 2,700 in 2015 – 2016, with early help now seen as everyone’s business. Early help provided by the Council was described by the parents and carers who met with inspectors as “amazing” and “brilliant”.  Parents praised the help they were receiving which, they said, had brought about real improvements in the lives of their children.

The report concludes that services for children and young people in Cornwall are now in a much stronger position and more effective than they were in 2013.

I am extremely proud of the commitment, expertise and achievements of everyone who works so hard to keep children and young people in Cornwall safe and well.

We have come a long way but we know we have more to do.  That will always be the case, especially as we address emerging risks to children such as online child sexual exploitation.  We are already working with our partners to build on the progress we have made over the past five years and we will ensure that we will also get to ‘Good’ in this area at the next inspection.

This achievement is down to the dedication, hard work and skill of staff working on the front line, many of whom go way beyond what is expected of them to help and protect the most vulnerable children of Cornwall.  It is also down to strong partnership working and it is good that the inspectors recognised this.

Our ambition is still the same, to become one of the best children’s services in the country.  The children of Cornwall deserve nothing less.

This results shows that local authorities working together effectively with their partners can turn around Children’s Services. Unlike some in the Government who believe outsourcing Children’s Services is the best way forward.

 

 

 

Pathways Children’s Home receives an Outstanding Judgement from Ofsted.

Cornwall’s Council’s Pathways children’s home has been praised as outstanding in a positive report by Ofsted Inspectors.

The outstanding judgement given to the St Blazey children’s home by Inspectors is the highest level possible and is only awarded to homes which provide highly effective services that support children and young people in need of help, protection and care to make greater than expected progress.  The recent changes to the Ofsted criteria mean that receiving this judgement is a significant achievement for the Cornwall Council run service.

For those who do not know what this facility does, Pathways is a nine bedded purpose-built home which offers personalised care packages to children and young people aged between five and 17 years with emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, and with learning disabilities.   This includes long-term residential care and crisis and assessment support.

The excellent staff at Pathways.

The excellent staff at Pathways.

The report by Ofsted Inspectors highlights the dedication and commitment of staff to provide the best possible service to young people and concludes that the high standard of care provided at the home ensures that the young people make significant social, emotional and practical progress.

As the Cabinet Member I am very proud of the commitment and achievements of the Disabled Children and Therapy Service and the skills of the staff who provide short breaks and residential care to disabled children. I am delighted that the dedication and skills of the staff at Pathways has been recognised by Ofsted. Their professionalism, support and dedication makes a positive difference to the lives of disabled children and their families. They make a real contribution to improving outcomes for children and giving them a brighter future.

Ofsted has raised the bar for inspections, making it much more difficult for services to reach a rating of ‘Good’ let alone ‘Outstanding’. I would like to congratulate everyone at the home for achieving this ‘Outstanding’ judgement from Inspectors. Pathways is a wonderful resource which is invaluable to the children and parents it supports. Well done.

Cornwall’s Adult Education celebrates a ‘good’ Ofsted

An Ofsted inspection is a tricky affair. Anyone who has been part of one will know how in-depth and stressful they can be as there is much at stake. This is why it is fantastic news that Cornwall’s Adult Education Service has been recently judged as ‘Good’ by Ofsted. The previous inspection of this service had it judged as ‘Requires Improvement’

This Good judgement by Ofsted is fantastic news for the service, as it shows the hard work by the staff, tutors and students has paid off. Those involved in the Adult Education Service should be very proud of this Ofsted inspection. In fact, the report is that good, I get the feeling the service only just narrowly missed out on an Outstanding judgement. However, this good judgement gives the service a firm foundation to build from.

As the Portfolio Holder which this service (now) comes under, I was recently able to celebrate this success with staff, students, governors, the previous portfolio holder and tutors at the Adult Education Centre in Helston. This event was also a great opportunity to meet those students who are undertaking courses and those tutors who have such a passion for the service. Of course a great service needs dedicated admin staff, and it was great to be able to talk and thank them too.

A great result for a great service. For anyone interested in a course offer by the Education Service, please click on this LINK

Students, Tutors and Staff celebrate the report

Students, Tutors and Staff celebrate the report

Let’s celebrate the Ofsted ‘Good’ news for a change

Today, the chef inspector of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, released Ofsted’s annual education report. In that report Sir Michael says secondary schools have “stalled delivering.” The media is concentrating on the negative aspects of the report, however, we should also focus on the educational establishments successes. This is often missed.

Whilst I do not think there is a head teacher, teacher, TA or school governor who does not say we can always look to improve, the majority of schools do deliver a very good level of education. This should be recognised, and we must celebrate success too. As it is unfair just to highlight (and rightly so) on those educational settings which are not delivering.

Cornwall is above the national average for the number of schools which are either good or outstanding. For primary and nursery school settings, this is 85% of 238 settings currently judged as “good or outstanding” by Ofsted ( with only 2 of the 238 primary schools judged to be inadequate ).

Of the 32 secondary schools in Cornwall 77% are currently judged as “good or outstanding” by Ofsted. The other schools are classified as Requires Improvement. It is important to note there are no secondary schools judged to be inadequate in Cornwall.

Furthermore, the percentage of pupils attending good or outstanding secondary schools has risen to 84%. Again this should be celebrated.

Special school performance is also positive overall, with three of the four special schools being judged as good or better.

The Council works closely with headteachers and governors at all schools to ensure that children in Cornwall are provided with the best possible quality of education. It is good to see that more than 80% of children in Cornwall are attending good or outstanding schools and I would like to thank governors, headteachers, staff, parents and carers for their hard work and commitment. Parents and carers play a very important part in a child’s education. As without this parental support, many children will not reach their full potential.

There is no room for complacency and we must always strive to do better. This is why at the end of 2013 Cornwall Council formally launched the Raising Aspirations and Achievement Strategy (RAAS). This strategy is which is aimed at ensuring all children and young people in Cornwall are given the best possible start in life. This means providing access to the highest quality education opportunities and raising the aspirations of both the young people and their families to encourage them to achieve beyond their expected potential.

This new Strategy is already helping to raise standards and we are continuing to work with schools to ensure that we build on this improvement over the coming months.

So let’s celebrate the good work that is being currently delivered by the educational settings in Cornwall. However, we should not be complacent and always look at how we can improve.

Let’s just remind people that out of 272 schools in Cornwall, two are judged inadequate. (Though for me, two is still too many). However, the majority of those 272 settings are good or outstanding. Well done.

Ofsted’s Annual Report is good news for Cornwall’s Schools

Today, Ofsted published its annual report into school standards. This includes a league table of the performance of local authorities. It is very good news for Cornwall, as the report shows that 82% of children in Cornwall are attending either good or outstanding secondary schools and 80% attending good or outstanding primary schools. This puts Cornwall among the top half of local authorities in the country.

The full report is available on the Ofsted website – HERE

I welcome this report and I would like to thank governors, headteachers and staff for their hard work and commitment. Cornwall Council can take a share of the credit, as without the Council’s help, working with Cornwall’s educational establishments, we might have found ourselves further down the Ofsted list. Parents must take credit for this success too. As their is vital to this success.

However, while I obviously welcome this positive report, there is no room for complacency. Last week the Council formally launched the new Cornwall Raising Aspirations and Achievement Strategy (RAAS) which is aimed at ensuring all children and young people in Cornwall are given the best possible start in life. This means providing access to the highest quality education opportunities and raising the aspirations of both the young people and their families to encourage them to achieve beyond their expected potential.

This will only be a success if we as a Council continues to work with schools to ensure that we see continued improvements in standards and increased rates of progress made by children in Cornwall”.

This comes on top of our better than the national average GCSE results.

Well done to all.

Ofsted and Cornwall’s Schools

The subject of Ofsted and Cornwall’s schools has been in the news of late. This is in part due to a large secondary school being put into special measures, and other schools having their Ofsted ratings downgraded. The simplest way to explain some of the results is Ofsted have raised the all ready high bar even further. This change of inspection took place in January 2012.

Since January 2012, ninety-three Cornish schools have been inspected. Out of those, six have been judged to be outstanding; fifty-four judged to be good (of which 31 improved from satisfactory; twenty-two required improvement (six dropping from outstanding/good) and eleven placed in special measures. Overall, out of 238 primary schools in Cornwall, 83% are judged by Ofsted as ‘good or outstanding’. For the 31 secondary school it is (again) 83%.

The results get better when you look back to 2009 till the end of 2012. In 2009 only 9% of primary schools were judged as outstanding; by December 2012, this had risen to 17%, almost double since 2009. For those judged good, the figure in 2009 was 51%, and by December 2012, it had risen to 61%. Those judged satisfactory (new grading is ‘required to improve’) was 39% in 2009, but had dropped to 18% by December 2012.

The secondary school figures are just as impressive, with the number of secondary schools judged as outstanding in 2009 was just 10%, as of December it was 35%. As for the satisfactory, this was 26% in 2009. By 2012, it had dropped to 16%.

The number of schools in ‘special measures’ is 11 primary schools and 1 secondary school* This equates of just 4% of primary schools and 3% of secondary schools. Of course it is disappointing these schools have been put into special measures, but measures and help is put in place to make sure these schools improve.

I hope this blog post has explained the current situation of the Ofsted inspections in Cornwall.

*As of writing this blog post

Children’s Services, Ofsted and Failings

Cornwall Councils Children’s Service has recently undergone an inspection by Ofsted. The last time this happened (2009) the report post that inspection was very bad as it highlighted many failings in this service. As a result of that inspection and report, this service was subject to Government intervention by means of an Improvement Board. With the Chairman of that board appointed by Government.

The Council was told it must improve or the consequences would be dire and far reaching. The Director at the time fell on his sword and resigned. Other staff left, or new staff were brought in to improve this service. This mammoth task had to be completed as a priority as children’s wellbeing and in some cases lives were being put at risk by these failings.

Cornwall has approximately 117,000 children and young people up to the age of 19 years. This is approximately 22% of the total population in the county.

It was then only a matter of time before Ofsted returned to see what improvements had been made. From my experience Ofsted pull no punches and will look at every detail. They will always find something, the issue is, how bad this something would be.

That something they found was bad, not as bad as it could be, as areas had and were improving. The problem was then and still is at senior manager level (as identified in the report in 2009 and 2011). A quote from the report is as follows:

“The previous inspection also found that management support for staff was inconsistent in ensuring that policies, procedures and guidance are followed. Additionally, managers did not provide sufficiently effective challenge about the quality of child protection and child in need plans. This remains the case, despite significant increases in the number of social workers and management capacity, and the structural reorganisation in children’s social care services”.

Not everything in the report is all doom and gloom as some areas have improved to adequate. In other areas there is even the odd good. The problem is that overall we are still failing the children of Cornwall. This alone is a massive failing.

I am not sure what political fallout there will be, or if anyone falls (or pushed!) on to their sword, but I am sure there will be a few nervous people sweating for a few weeks if not months post this report.

To read this report in full click HERE as you will then understand the scale of work that needs to be undertaken to make this service function correctly.