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Wiltshire Council rated "Outstanding" for making a "positive difference to children's lives

Published 12 December 2023
OFSTED Report rated Outstanding

Children living in Wiltshire benefit from high-quality services that make a positive difference to their lives.

That's the verdict from OFSTED inspectors who visited Wiltshire Council's Children's Services in September. The inspectors spent two weeks assessing how well the council works with children and families needing support and have given the council the highest rating possible - 'Outstanding'.

The report notes: "Since the time of the last inspection in 2019, when services were judged to be good, political, corporate and children's services leaders have focused successfully on strengthening existing services further, investing in new preventative services and teams.

While levels of need have risen in much of the country, this investment, particularly in preventative services, has helped to ensure that the level of need for children's services remains stable and services are meeting more children's needs well.

The report recognises how children feature strongly across the council strategic plans and the continued investment in children's services is making a significant difference to an increasing number of children's lives.

The report states: The highly successful cross-council work to deliver improved support and services for children and young people in respect of housing, the care leaver offer, and in safeguarding young adults is perhaps the best illustration of the Wiltshire 'one council approach' for children.

The teams were rated Outstanding in key areas including; impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, the experiences and progress of children in care, the experiences and progress of care leavers and overall effectiveness.

Areas highlighted include the Integrated Front Door where children's services staff and workers from partner agencies jointly assess and plan initial responses to referrals about children who may be in need or at risk. The report notes they receive a swift and effective response and the team provide a seamless service to children and their families during the evening and at weekends.

For social workers, the report reads: Social workers support those children in need or part of child protection plans to make good progress, regularly writing to them so they can understand what is happening and using family group conferences to help parents successfully identify sources of support from friends and family members. Most children in care attend and achieve well at school. The virtual school is ambitious for children and provides effective support and challenge to schools.

Also, it says foster carers receive high levels of support and have access to a wide range of formal and informal support networks. They are well supported in their roles and provided with extensive training that helps them to provide consistent and nurturing care to children.

The support for those leaving care is a standout strength. Care experienced young people are supported exceptionally well by caring and compassionate personal advisers who are determined in their efforts to provide the right support to help them to achieve their ambitions. The report notes the care leaver promise with a range of ongoing support including financial, gym membership, support with learning to drive and with accommodation.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: I want to congratulate the hardworking staff who have been recognised as providing this Outstanding support and care to make a positive difference to children and young people's lives. We want the very best for all our children and young people, so they are not held back by circumstances. We will do everything in our power to be the very best corporate parent and provide excellent support and care. Ofsted has recognised across the board the council is fully committed to supporting every child to achieve. We have always wanted to focus on achieving the highest rating as a reflection of our firm commitment to our children and young people.

We listen to our children and young people and families, and this feedback and interaction has really steered the way we have moved forward. We are never complacent, and we will always be looking at how we can improve still further to maintain high standards and to provide the best opportunities for all.

Lucy Townsend, DCS, added: This report shows the determination and commitment of staff to improving children and young people's lives in Wiltshire.

We were confident the service was in excellent shape but to have it confirmed independently and so positively is hugely satisfying.

We are never complacent though, and we will always strive to do more, but it is heartening to see the hard work has made a real difference to children and young people's lives for the better.

Terence Herbert, Chief Executive at Wiltshire Council praised staff for the clear vision and dedication which has made a difference to children and young people's lives.

He said: I would like to say a huge thank you to our hardworking staff who demonstrate tremendous commitment to ensuring our children and young people are given the support to succeed. That is what we are here to do, and I'm pleased that this has been recognised by Ofsted.

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