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.
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.